Burning Man might return this year. If it does, vaccines may be required.

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Burning Man might return this year. If it does, vaccines may be required.
REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
  • Burning Man organizers will soon decide if attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination this year.
  • CEO Marion Goodell said the festival's "radical inclusion" has to be weighed against "civic responsibility."
  • If this year's festival does go forward, it will be capped at 69,000 attendees, down from 80,000 in prior years.
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Burning Man attendees may be required to show proof of vaccination if the festival takes place this year in August.

On Saturday, CEO Marian Goodell walked back an earlier statement in which she said inoculations would be required of all attendees, citing feedback from the global Burning Man community.

"We know that challenges the concepts of 'Radical Inclusion,'" Goodell said in a video statement, acknowledging concerns over international attendees and children under 16 who haven't had equal access to the vaccines. "Radical Inclusion," in Burning Man terminology, means "no prerequisites exist for participation in our community."

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But, Goodell added, "civic responsibility weighs in there heavily."

Last year's pivot to a virtual festival didn't stop thousands of fans from holding their own makeshift festivals in violation of Nevada and California social-distancing laws.

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Goodell said the organizers are working closely with county, state, and federal agencies to develop a viable health and safety plan. She also highlighted the efforts of Burning Man "regionals" around the world who have successfully put on COVID-safe events in places like Russia, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Australia.

If this year's festival does go forward, it will be smaller than in years past. The AP reports that the Bureau of Land Management special-use permit is capped at 69,000 attendees, down from 80,000 in past years.

An economic analysis by the organizers found Burning Man is responsible for roughly $60 million in revenue for the state of Nevada each year.

The organizers say they hope to announce a final decision this weekend, or by April 30 at the latest.

"We're standing by to co-create Black Rock City," Goodell said.

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