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New COVID-19 requirements at Summerfest get mixed reactions

Posted at 7:18 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 20:18:17-04

MILWAUKEE — Summerfest is back, but there are some big changes to get into the Big Gig.

On the opening day of the festival, some people were surprised by the new rules.

Before getting through security and showing their Summerfest tickets, all attendees are asked to show their COVID-19 vaccine card, or proof of it on their phone.

There were a few people who claimed they did not have to show their vaccine card to get in when they entered the festival, as soon as the gates opened at 12 p.m. A Summerfest spokesperson says everyone must show proof of vaccination to enter.

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Anyone who wants to get into the festival, but is not vaccinated, must undergo a COVID-19 rapid test under a tent near Summerfest’s main entrances. But it’s not free. The rapid test comes with a cost of $25, on top of admission.

If that test comes back negative, they get a wristband to enter the festival. If they want to return to Summerfest, they don’t have to get another COVID-19 rapid test for 72 hours.

Mickey and Paige, who are visiting from Texas, decided to go that route.

"Neither she or I are vaccinated, so we did the rapid testing,” Mickey said. “It was no problem getting in and out. Compared to concerts we’ve gone to recently in Texas, this feels a little more secure and safe.”

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Tom and Lina Finiak of Franklin agree, but raise a valid concern.

“We walked in, and they asked us immediately for our COVID vaccine card and I told them what they really should be doing is checking IDs to correspond with the COVID vaccine card,” Tom said. “Anyone can get somebody else’s card to come in.”

Summerfest’s official entry policy does not include showing personal identification with your vaccine card. But organizers point out that using a fake card is considered a felony offense.

“We have worked really hard with the City of Milwaukee Health Department, and we put in these protocols, so everyone feels safe,” said Don Smiley, the CEO of Summerfest.

Here are some of the other safety measures in place at Summerfest: all transactions at the festival this year are cashless, and there are more hand sanitizer stations. There is more frequent cleaning, especially in high-touch areas, and crews have been dedicated to do overnight deep cleaning.

Summerfest is recommending that attendees wear masks, but does not require masks.

Click here to see Summerfest's COVID-19 policies.

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