Gasparilla Music Festival to require attendees prove vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for entry

Ticketholders for the Gasparilla Music Festival are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or COVID-19 vaccination before entry to the concert, organizers announced Friday.

The new guidelines were posted on the festival's Instagram and Twitter accounts, drawing a mixture of reactions from fans and potential festival-goers.

"The number [of COVID-19 cases] here in Florida are pretty high right now, so I just think just [it's about] being able to protect the community," said Josh Benensohn, a University of Tampa student who isn't going to the festival but has experienced these same rules elsewhere. "I went to Lalapalooza in Illinois and they required the same thing and I don't know one person who got COVID from it."

Gov. DeSantis, however, might not be as thrilled. He banned vaccine passports and ordered the state to fine businesses $5,000 for each customer required to show proof of vaccination status.

It's unclear of those penalties would apply to a music festival, but the governor is digging in about this issue.

"My job is to protect your individual freedom. My job is not to protect corporate freedom," DeSantis said during an unrelated news conference Friday about monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19. "I also don't want two classes of citizens. You know, we have some people in our in our community who just made the decision. This is something that they're not going to do. So what, you're going to write them out of society?"

Some people are upset they're finding out about the new guidelines one month before the festival, which runs from Oct. 1-3.

READ Data shows Florida’s latest COVID surge is the deadliest yet

"Nice. They wait until after people buy tickets...very disappointing to see this in Florida," someone wrote in response to the festival's announcement on Instagram.

Dr. Marissa Levine with USF Health believes these types of rules are necessary to help the community continue to hold larger outdoor events during the current COVID-19 delta surge.

"I applaud the organizers. I think it's a really important thing," Dr. Levine said. "Some would argue that we probably should test everybody because we know even when you're vaccinated, you can harbor the virus and transmit it. But I would say anything to help impact this is good."

Dr. Levine also hopes this will have an additional impact on younger people, who are checking into hospitals at an increasingly high rate.

"It gets the message out and perhaps maybe we'll even get some people to get vaccinated," she said.

Harry Styles made a similar recent announcement, requiring vaccination proof or a negative COVID-19 test before entry into his concerts during his current tour, which includes a stop at Amalie Arena next month.

FOX 13 reached out to Gov. DeSantis' office regarding whether the vaccine passport ban would apply to concerts and festivals but did not receive a response Friday.

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