30A Songwriters Festival Under Fire In Florida Over Vaccination Requirements

30a songwriters festival
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30a songwriters festival
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Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / CC by 3.0

Congressman Matt Gaetz is trying to stop the 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida from requiring ‘vaccine passports’. Organizers say the politician is misrepresenting the requirements.

Gaetz tweeted an open letter he wrote to Florida governor Ron DeSantis over what he calls “the illegal implementation of vaccine passports” at the 30A Songwriters Festival. Organizers of the festival spoke to Variety after the open letter was published, saying the Congressman is misrepresenting the truth.

Russell Carter, who co-produces the festival along with the non-profit Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County said the Congressman did not verify anything before sending the letter. “He just ranted about vaccine passports, which we do not nor ever have advocated or required,” Carter says.

The 30A Songwriters Festival is scheduled to take place January 14-16 in Florida. The festival will feature singer-songwriters like Emmylou Harris, Jenny Lewis, Patty Griffin, Dawes, Rickie Lee Jones, Allison Moorer, Mavis Staples, Hayes Carll, and many more. You can see the full line up on their website.

The 30A Songwriters Festival requires proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test for attendees. Those requirements are well within the law set by DeSantis, which has minimal restrictions in place for live venues to continue operating. As long as the primary requirement is a negative test for entry, proof of vaccine can be used to opt-out of the testing mandate.

Gaetz alleges that this policy allows organizers to treat unvaccinated Floridians differently than the vaccinated. “This is a dangerous, slippery slope. Governor DeSantis has repeatedly made clear that it will be unlawful to treat these groups differently in any way, and we agree with him,” Gaetz says.

30A organizers say that’s not true since unvaccinated attendees are just as welcome as the vaccinated. That’s as long as they can provide a negative COVID-19 test from the previous 72 hours. Carter says he wishes that Gaetz would have verified their stance before sending the letter.

“Prior to sending and publishing a letter to Gov. DeSantis, he easily could have called us to clarify what our policy is or researched it by going to our website to verify there is in fact, no vaccine passport. Instead, he quite simply misrepresented the facts in an irresponsible manner,” Carter says.

The language on the 30A Songwriters Festival says, “All festival patrons MUST present a negative COVID test (within 72 hours), along with a valid government-issued photo ID, to receive a 30A Songwriter’s Festival wristband. (Note: Festival patrons may choose to present proof of full vaccination in lieu of a negative test.)”