Essence Festival says COVID vaccine still required for entry

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The 2022 Essence Festival of Culture clarified its admission policy Friday, saying its coronavirus safety measures remain in place after an announcement via social media saying a negative COVID test result would be allowed for admission to its events was sent in error.

Essence said proof of a COVID vaccination remained mandatory for admission, a spokesperson for the festival said. Negative test results will not be accepted for entry, organizers said.

The messaging on the festival’s admission policy has been confusing from the start. Auto-generated information that came with electronic Ticketmaster receipts for comedian Kevin Hart’s Thursday show said that either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result was good for admission. But that was not the case.

In the days leading up to the festival, Essence officials and the festival’s messaging on the “frequently asked questions” section of its website insisted that only proof of vaccination was acceptable. That policy remained in effect, organizers reiterated Friday.

This comes as Louisiana is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. As of Friday, 2,237 new cases had been reported. Those not fully vaccinated accounted for 57% of the cases reported between June 16 and June 22, the Louisiana Department of Health said.

Still, there are currently no coronavirus restrictions in place in the city of New Orleans.

The festival annually brings more than 500,000 people to New Orleans over the 4th of July holiday weekend.

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