Coachella is back!
Coachella returns after 3 years of Covid, with the last festival taking place in 2019.
Coachella returns to California on Friday for the first time since 2019, with hundreds of thousands of fans going to the renowned desert music event as Covid-19 instances rise in the US.
The massive festival, which takes place over two three-day weekends and this year features Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, and the Weeknd as headliners customarily starts off the summer concert calendar.
Performers will also include Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, Doja Cat, and Brazil's Anitta.
Coachella was canceled for two years due to the pandemic and is considered a benchmark for the multibillion-dollar touring business, following recurrent financial failures when it returns after a three-year absence.
After other large-scale events, such as Lollapalooza, demanded proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 result last year, Coachella declared this winter that it would not need any such mitigating measures, such as masks or social separation.
The event is largely held outside, and it attracts around 125,000 revelers every day from all over the country and overseas, many of whom camp and fill surrounding hotels. On the event grounds, there will be two testing locations. According to Jose Arballo, a senior public information officer for the public health agency of Riverside County, where Coachella is held, there will also be expanded testing facilities nearby.
Arballo told AFP that "any time you have large groups of people gathering in public settings there's some issues there -- but we're hoping that more people will be vaccinated... and that more people will wear masks anyway," adding that he hoped people would not be present if they felt ill.
Case counts in the county have "plateaued in the last couple of weeks," according to Arballo, but "other people will be coming in from all over the country and other places in the world where maybe the case rates aren't that low."
He also mentioned that unreported at-home testing may have biased case rate statistics downward and predicted that the county will be ready to analyze the festival's public health impact by the middle of next week, just in time for the festival's second set of dates.
Covid-19 instances in the United States are down dramatically from January levels but have lately begun to rise, with the country averaging around 38,000 cases per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, the great majority of new cases are caused by the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant known as BA.2. Some institutions, as well as the city of Philadelphia, have resumed mask laws, but rules across the country, particularly in California, remain lenient.
Also on the list of performers are French rockers L'Imperatrice, superstar DJ Stromae, recent Grammy winner Arooj Aftab, Palestinian DJ Sama' Abdulhadi, and South Africa's Black Coffee.
Indio California hosts the folk and country event Stagecoach in addition to Coachella, and it receives roughly $3 million each year in direct revenue from the festivals, including ticket-sharing dollars and transient occupancy taxes from campers.
Indio spokesperson Brooke Beare told AFP that all sectors in the area benefit from the festivals, citing that they "bring a vibrancy and energy that is unparalleled."