Coachella 2022: big stars head to the desert with safety concerns looming | Coachella

Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and The Weeknd are headed to Coachella this weekend for the first edition of the mega-festival in three years.

The California-based festival, which takes place over two weekends, is expected to draw more than 125,000 people a day. In February, the festival announced that there would be no rules regarding mask-wearing, testing and vaccination proof “in accordance with local guidelines”.

Los Angeles county has seen a small rise in cases in recent weeks and while numbers remain low, people have been urged to remain aware of dangers. This week, the LA county public health director, Barbara Ferrer, asked residents to do their “very best to make use of the powerful tools at hand, vaccinations, boosters, testing, and masking” to ensure everyone is “as safe as possible”.

A statement on the official Coachella site reads: “There is an inherent and elevated risk of exposure to Covid-19 in any public place or place where people are present. And there is no guarantee, express or implied, that those attending the festival will not be exposed to Covid-19.”

The last week has seen a host of pop-up testing sites appear in the local area. “If you’re not feeling well, by all means consider staying at home,” said a Riverside University health system spokesperson, Jose Arballo. “I know it’s a big financial investment for those that purchase tickets. But your health is more important.”

Harry Styles
Harry Styles. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for HS

After two years of many cancelled and postponed live music events, Coachella marks a triumphant comeback for the industry, kicking off a summer that will also see returns for The Roots Picnic, Glastonbury, Boston Calling and Mo Pop, each with different Covid-19 restrictions or lack thereof.

The return of the festival will also be a big boost to Coachella Valley businesses after a two-year absence, with an expected 30% rise in sales for the period.

Styles will headline the first night while Eilish, who performed at the festival in 2019, will take over night two. “I’m headlining Coachella,” the 20-year-old singer said in a recent interview. “I mean, that’s a crazy thing to say.” The recent Oscar-winner for her Bond theme No Time to Die also suggested she was underwhelmed by her previous Coachella experience. “I really resent the things that were surrounding me during that period of time,” she said.

Kanye West had been scheduled to take on the final night but earlier this month pulled out, along with Travis Scott, who was to appear alongside him. The star would have taken home a reported $8.5m for the two weekends.

Night three headliners will now be Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd. Other acts performing include Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, Doja Cat, 21 Savage and Danny Elfman. Yesterday Arcade Fire joined the lineup in a last-minute addition.

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