Would-be concertgoers had better get their shots, as Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the second-largest concert promotion company in the US behind Live Nation, will be requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination at all of its US venues beginning in October. AEG notably operates some of the biggest venues in the States, including Staples Center, Brooklyn Steel, and Webster Hall, and subsidiaries like GoldenVoice operate festivals including Coachella, Stagecoach, and upcoming fests like Lovers & Friends and Day N Vegas.
Up until now, and until the policy goes into effect, AEG has been allowing entry with either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event date. However, with new infections rising and the emergence of new variants of the novel coronavirus, including the Delta variant, AEG’s leadership wants to protect attendees — and the company’s bottom line — to ensure future events don’t get canceled or postponed as in 2020 when the initial COVID outbreak essentially shuttered the entertainment industry for months.
As AEG COO Jay Marciano explained in a statement:
“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status. Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again. We realize that some people might look at this as a dramatic step, but it’s the right one. We also are aware that there might be some initial pushback, but I’m confident and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we will be on the right side of history and doing what’s best for artists, fans, and live event workers. Our hope is that our pro-active stance encourages people to do the right thing and get vaccinated. We’ve already had to deliver bad news about JazzFest this week; I think everyone can agree that we don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening.”
In contrast, Live Nation has let artists set the tone, determining vaccination requirements for their own shows. With this move, it’s possible AEG will put pressure on its industry peers to take further steps to protect the public and prevent another potentially disastrous industry-wide shutdown.