AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Weekend 1 of Austin City Limits Music Festival wrapped up Sunday, local officials are reflecting on the event’s COVID-19 protocols and possible impacts to local case rates.
To get into the festival, attendees had to show proof of full vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the festival. Festival organizers reported on day one of the event (Friday) Eight-six percent of festival-goers came prepared with proof of vaccination; 14% came with proof of a negative COVID-19 test; and less than 1% of attendees were turned away Friday for not having proper documentation.
“I thought that it was good that on the first day 86% of the people were committed and demonstrated that they had a vaccination,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said of the COVID-19 protocols in an interview with KXAN Tuesday. He continued on and said about 1,000 people were turned away for not having documentation.
Some festival-goers were skeptical of the numbers reported by ACL, saying barely anyone’s health papers were checked going into the festival.
“These numbers are totally fabricated. The floodgates were open, and no one was giving any document more than a momentary glance. There is no chance that this is correct,” one user wrote on Twitter.
“I didn’t see anyone getting checked whatsoever. We got there in the afternoon. Was pretty disappointed to see that, tbh,” another person wrote.
Adler acknowledged checking everyone’s health documentation wasn’t going to be 100%.
“It’s not going to be a perfect system, but you take that into account when you’re deciding whether or not to open up an event like this, because you know there are going to be limitations,” Adler said.
That includes limitations on getting people to wear face coverings. Masks were only required in parts of Zilker Park where it was difficult to maintain social distancing, including on festival shuttles, entrance lines, areas close to the stages and in some limited indoor areas, according to ACL Fest’s safety measures.
Adler said “in reality, very few” people wore masks. However, he said it’s about weighing the risks for a large event, and the weekend played out as anticipated.
“At the end of the day, you’re being realistic, you’re not creating unrealistic expectations for how thorough or how complete anything will be done, but you’re trying to balance both the risks as well as the need for the city to be able to move forward,” Adler said.
He said another risk, in addition to the coronavirus, this fall is the flu.
“Two years ago, our ICUs filled up just with flu patients. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Adler said. He encouraged everyone to get their flu shot to help keep the strain off local hospitals, in addition to getting their COVID-19 vaccine.