The massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is fully canceled for 2020, Riverside County health officials announced Wednesday.
Coachella and its country counterpart, Stagecoach, usually take place across three weekends in April but were previously postponed until October due to growing fears of coronavirus spread.
The events typically draw hundreds of thousands of people to the Coachella Valley across three consecutive weekends each April. With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of easing in Riverside County, public health officials decided they couldn’t be held this year at all.
“I am concerned as indications grow that COVID-19 could worsen in the fall,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, said in a written statement. “In addition, events like Coachella and Stagecoach would fall under Governor Newsom’s Stage 4, which he has previously stated would require treatments or a vaccine to enter. Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward.”
The announcement comes a day after Billboard reported that AEG, owner of festival promoter Goldenvoice, laid off 15% of its staff and instituted pay cuts for many others in the face of uncertainty over whether the events could take place this year.
“It is clear now that live events with fans will not resume for many months and likely not until sometime in 2021,” AEG chief Dan Beckerman wrote in an email to employees.
Kaiser said he was aware the cancellations carry a human cost.
“These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted,” he said. “My first priority is the health of the community.”
About 40% of Coachella ticket holders had already requested a refund, according to Billboard.
As of Wednesday, Riverside County had confirmed more than 9,900 coronavirus cases, the second-highest number of any California county after Los Angeles. The infections have resulted in 372 deaths.
Goldenvoice and AEG had not commented on the cancellations as of Wednesday afternoon. When the events were rescheduled for October, ticket holders were able to request a refund or transfer their pass to a new date.