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Summerfest won't require masks or proof of vaccination this year

Yesterday Summerfest announced its latest American Family Insurance Amphitheater headliner: Rod Stewart, with openers Cheap Trick. That's a fairly routine announcement for the festival, but buried in yesterday's press release from the festival was a piece of information perhaps far more relevant to the average Summerfest attendee.

"Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. does not intend to implement entrance protocols or a mask requirement for Summerfest 2022," the festival wrote. "There are no plans to require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test. MWF will monitor the situation and continue to work closely with health experts, while following local guidelines."

That's a notable policy shift from last year's Summerfest, when amid a surge of Covid-19 cases driven by the Delta variant the festival followed policies implemented by other major festivals, including Lollapalooza, and required proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test for entry. The festival also required children under 12 to wear a mask.

Summerfest's attendance fell an incredible 43% last year, and while there were many reasons for that drop (the festival's shortened nine-day run, its unusual September dates and fears of the Delta variant among them), pushback from concertgoers upset about those Covid-19 safety protocols contributed at least in part.

The festival, no doubt, is hoping to side step those same bruising cultural and policy debates this year, and it has good reason to hope that with rates of Omicron finally falling after a frightening winter surge, there's the possibility of real normalcy just around the corner. The festival also appears to be following the lead of Coachella, which just announced that its April dates will not have any Covid-19 entrance protocols.

Piet and I share our gut reactions to the news on this week's episode, which you can stream below.