Coachella, Stagecoach Festivals Canceled Due to COVID-19 Concerns
Coachella 2020 has been canceled. As Los Angeles Times reports, Riverside County health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser announced on Wednesday that both Coachella and country music festival Stagecoach — both of which are held in Indio, California — have been canceled due to the pandemic.
“I am concerned as indications grow that COVID-19 could worsen in the fall,” Kaiser said via Los Angeles Times. “In addition, events like Coachella and Stagecoach would fall under Governor Newsom’s Stage 4, which he has previously stated would require treatments or a vaccine to enter. Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward.
“These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the health of the community.”
Coachella, which typically happens in April, was pushed back to October in the hopes that conditions would have improved enough in the wake of COVID-19 to host the massive event. According to a report by Billboard on Monday, Coachella’s parent company, AEG, also laid off 15 percent of its staff and instituted 20 to 50 percent pay cuts in the wake of the pandemic.
“It is clear now that live events with fans will not resume for many months and likely not until sometime in 2021,” AEG chief executive Dan Beckerman wrote to employees prior to the layoffs. According to Billboard, Goldenvoice — the AEG subsidiary that organizes Coachella — is exploring options to hold the fest in limited capacity in April 2021 or hold off until October 2021 for a larger festival. “About 40 percent of ticket buyers have requested refunds for this year’s festival and AEG officials think they could probably pull off the festival in April at 60 percent capacity, but are holding off on making a final rescheduling decision until there is more clarity on the pandemic’s overall trajectory,” Billboard wrote.
The news arrives in the same week that the four-day, Chicago-based Lollapalooza festival canceled. Coachella was among the first major music events to be disrupted because of the coronavirus outbreak, following South by Southwest in Austin and Ultra Festival in Miami. Goldenvoice decided to push the two weekends of Coachella back to October, along with its major country music festival, Stagecoach. Other big summer fests soon followed, including Bonnaroo, which was moved from June to September and Electric Daisy Carnival, which was moved from May to October.
While the decision to call off Coachella and Stagecoach likely spells doom for the rest of the fall festival season, many health experts were saying months ago that it was unlikely that any festivals or large-scale concerts would take place in 2020. In an interview with Rolling Stone in April, one epidemiologist, George Rutherford, said such events wouldn’t be safe until at least 90 percent of the population is immunized, which may not happen until summer 2021.
“I realize tons of people make their living doing this stuff, but I see [concerts] as pretty far down the list [in terms of opening events back up]; we’ve got to get the schools going first,” Rutherford said. “Just because we get through this shelter-in-place doesn’t mean everything’s magically back to normal.”
Additional reporting by Althea Legaspi