Despite pushback from some Chicago residents and epidemiologists, Lollapalooza carried on as planned last weekend. In the wake of videos surfacing on social media that appear to show young people being “waved through” festival security without being asked for proof of vaccination, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot maintains that the potential superspreader event was as safe as possible.
During an interview with Chicago radio station WVON-AM on Wednesday, Lightfoot said that she was “well aware” of accusations that the massive music festival was being too lax about COVID-19 concerns, especially as the Delta variant continues to spike. As the Chicago Sun Times points out, festival attendees were required to either show their vax card and corresponding ID, or give proof that they had tested negative for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before gates opened. The mayor proposed that the videos in question were actually of attendees who had already received a wristband indicating they had either been vaccinated or tested negative.
“We checked with [attendees] every single day, multiple times a day. We had our people at the screening checkpoints. And I will tell you Dr. [Allison] Arwady, the public health commissioner, kind of went a little bit incognito — didn’t have all her paperwork right — and they wouldn’t let her in,” Lightfoot said. “Every single day, they turned hundreds of people away, either who didn’t have the right paperwork or had an expired test that wasn’t [taken] within 72 hours. That tells me there is a rigor around the protocols that they were using to screen people.”
Lightfoot added: “Can I tell you that the system worked perfectly? No, I can’t. But every single day, we had people there looking at it, asking questions and making sure that the screening was real and meaningful.” Lightfoot herself appeared at Grant Park during Lollapalooza to monitor the processes, although she also said she doesn’t want to “force people to get a vaccine.” She has “no regrets” about allowing the festival — one of Chicago’s biggest money-makers — to proceed.
If you weren’t one of the residents who got a free Lollapalooza ticket as an incentive for getting your COVID-19 vaccine, you can check out our day-by-day recaps and our photo gallery. Miley Cyrus, Journey, Foo Fighters, and Tyler, the Creator headlined the four-day festival.