Is COVID vaccine requirement for Lollapalooza 2021 legal?

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Is a vaccination requirement for Lollapalooza legal?
Lollapalooza will be back this year, and it will require COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry. But is requiring vaccination legal?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The vaccination hoop being set-up by Lollapalooza may be more logistics than legality, according to experts. It is likely to shape up as an extension of the masking rules that have been in place in offices and business everywhere.

Lollapalooza is about to enforce the updated 2021 version of that old line: "no shirt, no shoes, no vaccine, no service."

RELATED: Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park

Until now the biggest challenge for Lollapalooza planners has been patrons who buried beer and liquor in the park before the fences went up.

Now, come July 29 when the city's big summertime attraction opens, ticket-takers may also have to inspect proof of full vaccination for everyone coming in, or a current negative COVID test.

"Well, as a legal matter, it's not perfectly clear on the law whether that's permissible, but it almost certainly is. Businesses have a right to demand that people wear shoes, that people wear shirts, that people be vaccinated, they have to make exceptions where appropriate," ABC 7 legal analyst Gil Soffer told the I-Team.

But even once logistics are worked out, legal liability may not end.

As the I-Team has reported recently, knock-off vaccine cards are a hot commodity right now for people who don't want to be vaccinated but want access to places that require vaccine protection. That could be a problem at Lollapalooza.

"If people are admitted who claim that they're vaccinated, but they're not and somebody gets sick as a result, you can imagine all kinds of liability," said Soffer.

It's not just entertainment venues. JP Morgan Chase, at its virtual annual meeting held Tuesday, told employees that fully vaccinated staff won't have to wear masks at its Chicago or other U.S. offices. The company is also reported to be looking at whether mandatory employee vaccines would be legal.

"As a general matter, I think the business is free to say, we expect you to be vaccinated and we demand it, or you're going to have to consider other alternatives," said Soffer.

Just as businesses have to make accommodations for people who claim a disability or religious exemption that prevents them from being vaccinated, Soffer said so too will Lollapalooza officials face a host of issues as they police vaccinations without becoming the vaccination police.