Video of Lollapolooza's Lax Vaccine Checks Spark COVID Spread Fears

Video appearing to show the slack checking of vaccination cards at the entry point to the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago has raised fears that the event may yet act as a superspreader for COVID-19.

The festival confirmed that in order to gain entry into this site, people must either show a full COVID-19 vaccination card or a recent negative test taken within the previous 72 hours.

Festival goers were also required to wear a mask in any indoor spaces at at Grant Park as of Saturday, July 31 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that people, even those who are vaccinated, wear masks while indoors at public places following a surge of new COVID cases across the country.

However, a video tweeted out by Chicago-based civil right activist and former mayoral candidate Ja'Mal Green shows streams of people moving through security having only briefly shown their cards to festival workers with far from vigorous checks.

"This is how Lori Lightfoot's lollapalooza is checking Vaccination cards & our mayor is lying saying 90% are vaccinated," Green tweeted.

"Expect her to shut the city down soon because COVID rates have increased after she allowed 400,000 people to party so she can make the revenue."

This is how Lori Lightfoot’s lollapalooza is checking Vaccination cards & our mayor is lying saying 90% are vaccinated. Expect her to shut the city down soon because COVID rates have increased after she allowed 400,000 people to party so she can make the revenue. #Ridiculousness

— Ja'Mal Green (@JaymalGreen) August 1, 2021

In a statement to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Lollapalooza said the festival's entry procedure is a 4-step process and what is shown in the video was the visual wristband inspection, not the proof of vaccination and negative test documentation review.

The full process to gain entry into the event:

  • 1. Visual wristband check to ensure a patron does not need to return to the Box Office.
  • 2. Review of proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test documentation.
  • 3. Scanning of valid RFID wristbands.
  • 4. Security screening including magnetometer screening and bag check.

Following the first day of the festival—which saw more than 100,000 people attend during each of the four days—the Lollapalooza Twitter account tweeted that a vast majority of attendees presented their vaccination card prior to entry.

"More than 90% of you showed us your proof of vaccination today! Thanks go out to the 8% who brought their proof of negative COVID-19 tests and for the 600 of you who showed up without paperwork, we hope to see you tomorrow," the account tweeted.

Chicago-based reporter Mary Ann Ahern was one of those who tweeted their skepticism regarding the checks.

"Please, they waved them at you for less than two seconds," she wrote in response to Lollapolooza's tweet.

However, Lollapalooza veteran Parker Simonaitis said he felt safe at the festival despite the large crowds.

"They were checking vaccine cards, pretty cautiously," Simonaitis told WLS. "I felt good in the crowds. They were giving out masks right at the entrance. I feel like they did as safe as they could and I feel coming out as a vaccinated person pretty positive about what they were doing to protect us."

In a press conference on Sunday, Mayor Lightfoot dismissed suggestions the music festival should not have gone ahead, noting how the city of Chicago has already held large events such as sports games and other festivals.

"We've been able to open but do it with care because of the vaccinations," Lightfoot said. "So I feel very good about what we've done. Obviously, we'll know a little bit more in a week to 10 days. But we have to keep pushing the fact that the unvaccinated are the people that are at risk."

According to the latest figures, Chicago is currently recording an average of 2,016 new COVID cases a day, up 58 percent from last week's daily average of 131.

Lollapalooza has been contacted for comment.

Lollapalooza vaccine check
Guests are asked to show proof of having been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus as they arrive for the first day of the Lollapalooza music festival on July 29, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images