Three years later, the Coachella festival returns to California

No masks, no health restrictions, but wreaths of flowers on the head and glitter make-up: The famous music festival in Coachella, California, resumed on Friday for the first time since 2019.

“I’m vaccinated and we’re outdoors. I’m not worried at all, I really needed that,” says Katie, 22, from New York and her second time at Coachella. “I’m so happy to be here, it’s great,” she added during a concert by The Hu, a rock band from Mongolia. Despite Covid-19 cases rising in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people are expected in Indio, in the California desert, for this huge event, which will take place over two three-day weekends.

Cancellation by Kanye West

This year you can see Billie Eilish, Harry Styles as well as The Weeknd and Swedish House Mafia, who replace Kanye West, who resigned at short notice. The 2020 edition of the festival had been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and two years of chaotic cancellations, concert date and program changes followed.

After a three-year hiatus, Coachella is seen as a test event for an industry still unstable after all the setbacks caused by the pandemic. Organizers said they would not ask for proof of vaccinations, masks or social distancing.

Held mostly outdoors, the festival welcomes about 125,000 daily enthusiasts from across the country and abroad, many of whom camp out or fill nearby hotels.

Two Covid-19 screening sites are available on site. Jose Arballo, a spokesman for local health authorities, said testing capacities were also being increased in the region.

Rise in Covid cases

While cases have fallen sharply across the country since January, their numbers are beginning to rise, according to authorities. Some universities have reinstated mask-wearing requirements, but restrictions remain minimal in most of the United States, including California.

Other big names at Coachella this year include Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers and Doja Cat. Travis Scott also quit performing after a fatal stampede during his Houston concert last year. Other concerts on the program are those of French L’Impératrice, superstar Stromae, Palestinian DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi and South African Black Coffee.

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