Chicago native Kanye West welcomed fans inside Soldier Field on Thursday for what he called a “listening experience,” allowing supporters to hear his newest album “Donda” in a unique setting, but that’s not the only reason this event is different than other recent concerts.
Just under 40,000 fans were allowed inside of Soldier Field, but unlike Lollapalooza and several other large-scale shows, fans didn’t have to show proof of a negative COVID test or proof that they had been vaccinated against the virus.
The concert did, however, offer on-site vaccinations for anyone interested in receiving them, bringing more than 2,000 doses to the show in hopes of convincing any remaining holdouts to get their COVID vaccine shots amid a surge in cases.
“They told us we could possibly sit at the front of the stage with him if we got vaccinated, so we said ‘sure,’” fan Michael Airth, who got vaccinated at the show, said.
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West’s show comes just one day after the city announced that it is seeking to learn more about how COVID spreads at outdoor events, asking those who attended the Northalsted Market Days festival earlier this month to report any positive COVID results to the Chicago Department of Public Health.
The CDPH says that it is supportive of COVID policies put in place by Soldier Field.
“We know that Soldier Field has adopted many COVID-19 safety protocols, and feel this event can be held safely so long as attendees abide by these precautions,” the department said. “Soldier Field will be at only a little over half capacity…and we know that transmission is less likely at outdoor events.”
Fans did their best to set aside any COVID concerns, saying that they were simply treasuring the chance to hear brand new music and to support one of their favorite artists.
“Being able to see this is honestly a blessing,” Chino Nwankpa said. “I’m definitely excited.”
Those fans attending the show are being asked to monitor for any COVID symptoms in coming weeks, and to get tested if they experience symptoms similar to COVID, even if they have been vaccinated against the virus.”