Milwaukee’s Summerfest to Require Proof of Vaccination or a Negative COVID-19 Test to Enter

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
August 10, 2021 Updated: August 10, 2021

The organizers of one of America’s biggest music festivals, Milwaukee’s Summerfest, have announced new COVID-19 entry protocols that require all attendees over age 12 to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. (MWF) announced the new measures in a release on Tuesday, noting additional safety precautions—including enhanced sanitizing and cashless transactions to minimize person-to-person contact—will also be in place for Summerfest 2021, scheduled for multiple dates in September.

Festivalgoers will be asked to show a valid COVID-19 vaccination card or proof of a negative test upon entry at any gate, with originals, printed copies, and digital formats accepted. For a negative COVID-19 test result to be accepted for admission, it must be obtained within 72 hours of attending the festival.

Children under 12 years of age—who are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines—will not have to provide a negative COVID-19 test, though they will be required to wear masks even if they do have a negative test.

Universal masking is also recommended for indoor spaces, such as first aid stations and restrooms, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated individuals are additionally urged to mask up when in a large crowd, according to the release.

“We collaborated with national health experts and music industry executives and determined this was the best course of action for Summerfest,” said Don Smiley, MWF president and CEO, in a statement.

In an interview with CBS reporter Victor Jacobo, the MWF chief explained that a range of considerations drove the decision to adopt the protocols.

“It was rooted in three different factors—health, safety, and business,” Smiley said, adding that some performers had asked for enhanced safety measures.

“We just couldn’t be in a position of losing a headliner because we didn’t have the right health and safety protocols that they may be demanding,” he added.

The band Spanish Love Songs, which is scheduled to perform at Summerfest on Sept. 4, took to Twitter to praise the decision.

“Extremely pleased to announce that Summerfest will also be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry,” the band wrote.

Summerfest organizers said the move to adopt the new protocols was being made with the backing of the City of Milwaukee Health Department.

“We are pleased with their proactive decision to implement these additional safety measures and ensure festivalgoers can feel comfortable attending this beloved music fest responsibly,” Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said in a statement.

A surge in COVID-19 infections across the country has prompted some music venues and performers to push for more safety protocols, such as masking, a negative test, or proof of vaccination.

Lollapalooza, a multi-day music festival held in Chicago, similarly required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter festival grounds in July.

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'