Our Chicago: Lollapalooza returns, hotel occupancy increases

ByABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Preparations are underway at Grant Park for Lollapalooza.

It begins on Thursday at full capacity after missing a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, 400,000 people attended over four days.

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Lollapalooza attendees must have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

The return of the popular music festival comes at a time of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and across the country.

"Certainly I wish that COVID was not going up anywhere in the U.S. but we remain broadly in control at this point, and as long as people are responsible, vaccinated, and/or tested, we are continuing to trust the science that outdoor events generally do not hold major risks for transmission." said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

However, there will be precautions in place to keep those who attend safe from infection.

"I'm really glad the Lollapalooza organizers have taken the best approach here in terms of limiting risk in every way that they can," Arwady said. "Insuring that everybody who's attending, people need to be either fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative test before entry, and they've done all the things that we're thinking about in terms of air handling, within any of the enclosed spaces within Lolla, that they have a good testing program in place for their staff, that all of their backstage folks are vaccinated. They really have been doing everything that is in line with having this be as safe as possible."

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People can find careers in the hotel industry as Illinois begins to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of those attending the festival will be from out-of-town, staying at Chicago hotels. Their return after the COVID-19 pandemic could provide a boost after a year in which hotels were largely empty. Currently, occupancy rates are hovering around the 50% to 55% range said Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association. He said that is better than earlier in the year and definitely better than last year. However, he said typically hotels are at 85% to 90% at this time of year.

"We're definitely hopeful," Jacobson said. "Reservations for Lolla are looking quite strong, but the question is, where do we go after Lolla, and the demand for leisure travel is definitely high. You see a ton of tourists going up and down the Mag Mile and Loop. Where we don't see the recovery quite yet is in the corporate business travel, and then of course, the conventions."