the Californian music festival returns after a three-year hiatus, with Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Stromae

The famous Coachella music festival resumes on Friday April 15 for the first time since 2019, with hundreds of thousands of people expected in California for the occasion, as Covid-19 cases increase in the United States.

The huge event is held over two three-day weekends and kicks off the concerts of the summer. On display this year, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and the Weeknd, as well as Swedish House Mafia.

The 2020 edition of the festival had been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and two years of chaotic cancellations, concert date and program changes followed. After a three-year hiatus, Coachella is seen as a test event for an industry still unstable after all the pandemic-related setbacks. Organizers said they would not require proof of vaccinations, masks or social distancing.

The festival is held mostly outdoors, welcoming some 125,000 enthusiasts a day from across the country and abroad, many of whom camp out or fill nearby hotels. Two Covid-19 screening sites will be available on site. Jose Arballo, a spokesperson for the local health authorities, said testing capacities would be increased in the area as well.

While cases have fallen sharply since January in the country, their numbers are starting to rise again, averaging around 31,000 cases per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some universities have reinstated mask-wearing requirements, but restrictions remain minimal in most of the country, including California.

Other big names at Coachella this year include Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers and Doja Cat. The Weeknd and Swedish House Mafia were added to the roster at the last minute after Kanye West pulled out. Travis Scott has also given up performing after a deadly stampede during his concert in Houston last year.

Other concerts planned are those of the French from L’Impératrice, the superstar Stromae, the Palestinian DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi and the South African Black Coffee. Last minute surprise, Arcade Fire will play Friday night.

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