UPDATE (8/25): Vaccines will be offered at Kanye West’s upcoming Donda listening party in Chicago. “Soldier Field and the Chicago Department of Public Health are pleased to be working together to offer 1,500-plus vaccinations for those not yet vaccinated (Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson) and assist with setting up their second dose at a later date. This will be available at Gate 8 on the SE corner of the stadium,” a representative for the venue told Rolling Stone.
It’s Kanye’s party, and he’ll throw caution to the wind if he wants to. The rapper-producer’s upcoming album-release fête is scheduled to take place at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Thursday, August 26th. And he will not be requiring attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result in order to get in the outdoor event, Rolling Stone has learned.
“Kanye West’s performance is one of many examples that show that Chicago can be open and safe at the same time,” Chicago Park District spokeswoman Michele Lemons said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday, August 24th. “We have worked with Soldier Field on Covid-19 safety protocols, as we have other venues including Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate Fields, and feel this event can be safely held with the proper mitigation efforts in place.”
West is allowed to welcome up to 38,000 guests on site, according to the outlet. And it appears that Lemons believes this reduced capacity — which is about 60 percent of the venue’s 63,000 maximum — serves as enough protection against the Delta variant of the disease. (It’s worth noting, as the Tribune points out, that Chicago was experiencing about 60 new coronavirus cases per day in mid-June, but that average daily number has since risen to around 454 cases.)
While Chicago welcomed somewhere around 100,000 people per day to Grant Park’s Lollapalooza in late July, the festival that served as a guinea pig of sorts did require proof of vaccine or a negative test result received within 72 hours of entrance. In recent weeks, several major tours and touring companies have followed suit.
This is not the first Donda listening party and it may not be the last. West threw two such events in Atlanta, one in July and one earlier this month. Those concerts did not require vaccines either, but on the day of the second show, the venue, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, announced that it would be offering shots of the Pfizer vaccine on the premises from the moment doors opened until the beginning of the scheduled set time. Chicago’s Soldier Field has not made any announcement of the sort yet.
While it’s possible that West’s personal opinions about these vaccines have changed, it’s worth noting that he previously called them “the mark of the beast” in an interview with Forbes. That said, the Atlanta event’s vaccine announcement came directly from a local organizer and was not promoted on social media platforms by West himself.