Thousands flock to Audacy music festival as US businesses cancel Christmas parties for fear of Omicron


Florida hosted a huge music festival this weekend, despite fears over the Omicron variant that saw Christmas parties canceled and staff invited to work from home until 2022.

The Audacy Music Festival welcomed thousands of fans to the outdoor event in Fort Lauderdale as members of one of its flagship acts – the Swedish House Mafia – were forced to step down after testing positive for COVID.

The festival, which featured a line-up including 21 Pilots, Lil Nas X, Weezer, Willow Smith, Modest Mouse and Steve Aoki, took place on Saturday and Sunday, with two band members headlining, the Swedish House Mafia testing positive for the coronavirus sometime after arriving at the festival. As a result, they canceled their set.

Thousands of maskless revelers have been seen approaching the waters edge up close, with experts saying outdoor socializing is relatively safe in terms of the risk of transmitting COVID.

Pictured: Thousands of people attended the Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida this weekend, despite continued fears of the Omicron COVID-19 variant

The crowds appeared to continue without concern, as spectators in swimsuits and bikinis continued to party early Sunday morning ahead of the lineup for the next day and the last day.

The crowds appeared to continue without concern, as spectators in swimsuits and bikinis continued to party early Sunday morning ahead of the lineup for the next day and the last day.

Lil Nas X, pictured, was among many performers to perform at the festival, alongside Weezer, Willow Smith, Modest Mouse and Steve Aoki

Lil Nas X, pictured, was among many performers to perform at the festival, alongside Weezer, Willow Smith, Modest Mouse and Steve Aoki

Pictured: American rapper Lil Nas X performs at the Audacy Beach Festival on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida

Pictured: American rapper Lil Nas X performs at the Audacy Beach Festival on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida

Pictured: Musical artist Michelle Joy performing at the Audacy music festival this weekend, despite the Omicron variant COVID spreading in a third of US states, according to the Surgeon General

Pictured: Musical artist Michelle Joy performing at the Audacy music festival this weekend, despite the Omicron variant COVID spreading in a third of US states, according to the Surgeon General

“Despite the precautionary measures, two members of the group have tested positive for COVID-19, which means we will not be able to perform this Sunday at the Audacy Beach Festival, Fort Lauderdale,” the Swedish House Mafia statement read.

“We’re sorry to disappoint our fans so close to the show, but we need to follow recommended government guidelines and isolate ourselves. We need to prioritize the health of our group, the team, the festival staff and our fans. We love you all and see you soon.

The crowd, which numbered in the thousands, seemed to continue without concern, as spectators in swimsuits and bikinis continued to party until early Sunday morning before the lineup for the next day and the last day.

The huge festival featured artists performing on two different stages, one titled ‘Riptide’ and the other titled ‘Beach’.

Pictured Willow Smith of Willow performs live at the Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach Park on Saturday

Pictured Willow Smith of Willow performs live at the Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach Park on Saturday

Willow Smith, pictured, performed at the Audacy festival on Saturday as the rest of the country began taking precautions against the 'super-mutant' Omicron COVID-19 variant

Willow Smith, pictured, performed at the Audacy festival on Saturday as the rest of the country began taking precautions against the ‘super-mutant’ Omicron COVID-19 variant

This graph shows COVID infections in Florida, which now appear to be on the decline again

This graph shows COVID infections in Florida, which now appear to be on the decline again

Pictured: Daily death toll in the United States in November and December, showing fairly irregular trends per day as of December 4

Pictured: Daily death toll in the United States in November and December, showing fairly irregular trends per day as of December 4

Pictured: coronavirus in the United States, showing nearly 50 million total cases and 788,363 deaths

Pictured: coronavirus in the United States, showing nearly 50 million total cases and 788,363 deaths

Pictured: Number of new COVID-19 infections in the United States per day, showing a significant drop in June and July 2021 before resuming an upward trend in September and October

Pictured: Number of new COVID-19 infections in the United States per day, showing a significant drop in June and July 2021 before resuming an upward trend in September and October

The festival also had a water taxi pick-up and drop-off area, where revelers could take a boat to the event to avoid traffic, as thousands descended on the Fort Lauderdale waterfront to join in on the weekend festivities.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted all COVID restrictions earlier this year and sought to ban mask warrants, as well as vaccine warrants, because he claims they hamper the freedom of Floridians.

Meanwhile, as the festivities continued until Sunday evening, the rest of the country began to take precautions against the “super-mutant” variant Omicron.

It appears to be more contagious than COVID, although no deaths have been recorded so far. Experts, including Dr Anthony Fauci, hope Omicron will cause only mild effects, but have urged caution, with more details on the latest strain expected to emerge in the next fortnight.

Overall, the Sunshine State, which has a population of around 21.5 million, has recorded 3.69 million cases of coronavirus and 61,548 deaths.

Florida has recently seen ebbs and flows in terms of cases trending up and down over the past few months.

As of mid-June of this year, the state recorded the lowest number of daily COVID-19 cases and the lowest seven-day average since the virus first appeared in early 2020.

Partygoers attend the Audacy Music Festival this weekend, where two performers contracted COVID-19 before performing

Partygoers attend the Audacy Music Festival this weekend, where two performers contracted COVID-19 before performing

Pictured: Fans cheer at the Audacy Beach Festival, although at least 15 US states have reported cases of Omicron, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, among others

Pictured: Fans cheer at the Audacy Beach Festival, although at least 15 US states have reported cases of Omicron, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, among others

Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo, pictured, performs at the Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fla. On Saturday

Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo, pictured, performs at the Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fla. On Saturday

Pictured: Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, members of Swedish House Mafia, a Swedish <a class=electronic dance music that tested positive at the Audacy Music Festival” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Pictured: Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, members of Swedish House Mafia, a Swedish electronic dance music that tested positive at the Audacy Music Festival

But on August 13, there were nearly 50,000 new cases of the coronavirus daily in Florida, causing a massive surge in positive tests before finally falling back to levels near June 2021 last month.

The state now averages about 1,600 new COVID diagnoses per day and about 57 deaths.

On Saturday, the Omicron COVID variant spread to a third of U.S. states, according to the Surgeon General.

At least 15 US states have reported cases of Omicron, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, among others.

The Baltimore New Year’s Eve show has been canceled again as city officials have said things will not get back to normal until 2022 due to the pandemic.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the New Years Eve outdoor party in Times Square is still underway and masks are not required for those vaccinated.

And in Europe and the UK, fears over the Omicron variant are heightened after a party in Norway infected 60 of 120 guests with the strain of coronavirus.

The companies also warned workers who expected to return to the office in early 2022 to continue working from home.


Gerald R. Schneider