Big N.J. music festival requiring proof of COVID vaccine or negative test

A popular, two-day music festival in Asbury Park says that anyone who wants to attend next month must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or produce a negative test result.

The Sea Hear Now festival has a big lineup for the Sept. 18-19 festival, including Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, Patti Smith, and Billy Idol.

It announced the new attendance policy on Wednesday via social media, three days after the organizer of the Crawfish Fest in Sussex County cancelled its Aug. 27-29 music festival due to coronavirus concerns.

“The safety of our patrons and our staff is our number one priority,” stated the Sea Hear Now organizer on its Facebook page.

“As such, a full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results will be required to attend Sea Hear Now 2021. For patrons who are not fully vaccinated, a negative COVID-19 test result must be obtained within 72 hours (3 days) of first day attending,” it stated.

The festival is sold-out, according to the event’s website. The Facebook post did not address whether refunds will be offered.

The organizer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

New Jersey is grappling with a rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, with health officials primarily blaming the more contagious Delta variant that is largely being spread by, and impacting, unvaccinated residents.

There were 598 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or suspected cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Tuesday night — 22 more than the previous night and the most since May 26.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday drew widespread attention after denouncing protesters objecting to mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations as the “ultimate knuckleheads.”

In Sussex County, the organizer of the long-running Crawfish Fest cited in explaining its cancellation that more than 100 band members were expected to arrive from Louisiana, whose vaccination rates have been much lower than in New Jersey.

Sea Hear Now will feature 25 performances on three stages over two days on the Jersey Shore waterfront in Asbury Park.

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Rob Jennings may be reached at [email protected].

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