Burning Man festival organizers are considering mandatory COVID vaccine records for attendance.
The festival is held annually every year in the Nevada desert, but organizers have stopped short of making the vaccine mandatory. Instead, they say they won’t decide whether this year’s Burning Man event will require the vaccine until the end of the month.
Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell said in a video on April 8 that vaccines would be mandatory. She erroneously said that the state of Nevada requires vaccine proof for large gatherings. In an updated statement on the Burning Man website, Goodell said she ‘misspoke.’
Burning Man draws more than 80,000 people for the annual event – which was cancelled last year.
Organizers have been working on their own guidelines for the festival. Those guidelines must be submitted as part of the festival’s health and safety plan to county officials. “We are weighing the gravity of what that does,” Goodell said, referencing mandatory vaccine proof. “And we know the challenges the concept of ‘radical inclusion.'”
Burning Man organizers say civic responsibility is an important part of the show. But she also acknowledges there are people who don’t have access to vaccines yet. “That’s not quite figured out yet. There are plenty of people that are challenging whether it is necessary,” Goodell says. “We hear you. The question of vaccines and how to basically require them, and even from a logistical standing, frankly – all of that, we’re taking a look at.”
Burning Man festival organizers will make their decision on mandatory vaccines by April 30.
“At this point, the government agencies involved in collaborating with us have been really supportive and super helpful. They are not putting up any roadblocks. We are all looking at the resources to have make it happen and get this done,” Goodell says.
The application that Burning Man organizers must submit for a special use land permit has an attendance cap of 69,000. That’s down from the 80,000 cap approved for past festivals in the Black Rock Desert just 100 miles north of Reno.
Goodell says input from leaders of the largest theme camps indicates around 20% to 30% are committed to returning in August. That would suggest an overall attendance rate of around 60,000 to 65,0000 people for Burning Man 2021.
Right now, vaccine registrations are extremely easy to spoof, so it’s unclear how this would be enforced. Anyone who wants to go but doesn’t want a vaccine can fill out a CDC card they bought online and present it as legitimate.