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In one of the strongest statements yet made by a major player in support of a pro-vaccination policy in the live music industry, AEG Presents, the second-largest live music company in the country, has announced that proof of vaccination will be required going forward for ticketholders and crew at all the venues it owns or operates in the United States — including festivals like Coachella, Stagecoach and Day N Vegas as well as its theaters and clubs.

“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” said Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and chairman-CEO of AEG Presents, in a statement. “Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again. We realize that some people might look at this as a dramatic step, but it’s the right one.  We also are aware that there might be some initial pushback, but I’m confident and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we will be on the right side of history and doing what’s best for artists, fans, and live event workers.”

A number of the nation’s top music festivals fall under the AEG aegis — some of which have already been nixed for this year and won’t happen until next spring, like California’s Coachella and Stagecoach and the just-nixed New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. But the mandate will cover two festivals that are still on for this fall, Firefly and Day N Vegas.

The list of affected indoor venues includes the Roxy and El Rey in Los Angeles, Webster Hall and Brooklyn Steel in New York and the Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas.

“Our hope is that our proactive stance encourages people to do the right thing and get vaccinated,” added Marciano.  “We’ve already had to deliver bad news about JazzFest this week; I think everyone can agree that we don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening.”

AEG says the policy will be in full effect by Oct. 1. Up till that date, either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours will be allowable for entry. “The date was chosen specifically to allow time for any eligible unvaccinated ticketholders and staff to reach fully vaccinated status should they choose to do so,” the statement said.

“Certain states’ regulations may override our mandate,” noted Shawn Trell, COO and general counsel of AEG Presents said, “or a few artists may not want to immediately get on board with the plan, but we know that using our platform to take a strong position on vaccinations can make an impact. The message we want to send is simple and clear: the only way to be as safe as possible is to require everyone to be vaccinated. And we’re confident that others who haven’t been ready to make this full commitment yet will follow our lead.”

Live Nation, the top live music company, has a less strict policy as of now, having announced that proof of vaccination or a recent COVID test will be required for select shows, with individual artists’ discretion a factor.