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Thousands flock to Audacy music festival as US firms cancel Christmas parties over fears of Omicron


Florida held a huge music festival over the weekend, despite fears over the Omicron variant that has seen Christmas parties canceled and staff urged to work from home well into 2022. 

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

The festival, which featured a lineup including the likes of 21 Pilots, Lil Nas X, Weezer, Willow Smith, Modest Mouse, and Steve Aoki, took place Saturday and Sunday, with two band members of headliners the Swedish House Mafia testing positive for coronavirus some time after arriving at the festival. They canceled their set as a result. 

Thousands of maskless revelers were seen getting up close and personal by the water’s edge, with experts saying that outdoor socializing is relatively safe in terms of COVID transmission risks.  

Pictured: thousands of people attended the Audacy Beach Festival in in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida over the weekend, despite ongoing fears of the Omicron COVID-19 variant

Pictured: thousands of people attended the Audacy Beach Festival in in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida over the weekend, despite ongoing fears of the Omicron COVID-19 variant

The crowd appeared to carry on without concern, as swimsuit and bikini-clad concertgoers continued to party well into early Sunday morning before the next and last day's lineup

The crowd appeared to carry on without concern, as swimsuit and bikini-clad concertgoers continued to party well into early Sunday morning before the next and last day’s lineup

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

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

Pictured: US rapper Lil Nas X performs during Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida Saturday

Pictured: US rapper Lil Nas X performs during Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida Saturday

Pictured: musical artist Michelle Joy performing at the Audacy music festival over the weekend, despite the Omicron COVID variant having spread to a third of US states, according to the Surgeon General

Pictured: musical artist Michelle Joy performing at the Audacy music festival over the weekend, despite the Omicron COVID variant having spread to a third of US states, according to the Surgeon General

‘Despite following precautionary measures, two members of the group have tested positive for COVID-19, meaning we will be unable to perform this Sunday at Audacy Beach Festival, Fort Lauderdale,’ the statement from the Swedish House Mafia read.

‘We’re so sorry to disappoint our fans so close to the show, but we have to follow the recommended government guidelines and self-isolate. We must prioritize the health of our group, the crew, festival staff and our fans. We love you all and will see you soon.’ 

The crowd, which numbered in the thousands, appeared to carry on without concern, as swimsuit and bikini-clad concertgoers continued to party well into early Sunday morning before the next and last day’s lineup. 

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

Willow Smith, pictured, of Willow, performs on stage during Audacy Beach Festival at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park on Saturday

Willow Smith, pictured, of Willow, performs on stage during Audacy Beach Festival at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park on Saturday

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

This chart shows Florida's COVID infections, which now appear to be on the wane again

This chart shows Florida’s COVID infections, which now appear to be on the wane again 

Pictured: number of US deaths per day in November and December, showing fairly irregular trends per day as of December 4

Pictured: number of US deaths per day in November and December, showing fairly irregular trends per day as of December 4

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

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

Pictured: number of new US COVID-19 infections per day, showing a significant drop in June and July of 2021 before trending upwards once again throughout September and October

Pictured: number of new US COVID-19 infections per day, showing a significant drop in June and July of 2021 before trending upwards once again throughout September and October

The festival also had a water taxi pickup and drop-off area, where partygoers could take a boat to the event to avoid traffic, as thousands descended upon Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront to partake in the weekend’s festivities.

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis lifted all COVID restrictions earlier this year, and has sought to ban mask mandates, as well as vaccine mandates, because he claims they impede on Floridians’ freedom. 

Meanwhile, as the festivities carried on through Sunday evening, the rest of the country has began to take precautions against the ‘super-mutant’ Omicron variant.

It appears to be more infectious than COVID, although no deaths have been recorded so far. Experts including Dr Anthony Fauci say they’re hopeful Omicron may only cause mild effects, but have urged caution, with more details on the latest strain set to emerge within the next fortnight. 

As a whole, the Sunshine State, which has a population of around 21.5 million people, has had 3.69 million cases of the coronavirus and 61,548 deaths.

Florida has recently seen ebbs and flows in terms of cases trending upwards and downwards over the last several months.

In mid-June of this year, the state saw the lowest amount of daily COVID-19 cases and lowest seven-day average since the onset of the virus back in early 2020.

Partygoers attend the Audacy Music Festival over the weekend, where two performers contracted COVID-19 prior to performing

Partygoers attend the Audacy Music Festival over the weekend, where two performers contracted COVID-19 prior to performing

Pictured: fans cheer at the Audacy Beach Festival, despite at least 15 US states reporting Omicron cases, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota among others

Pictured: fans cheer at the Audacy Beach Festival, despite at least 15 US states reporting Omicron cases, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota among others

US rock band Weezer's lead singer Rivers Cuomo, pictured, performs during Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida on Saturday

US rock band Weezer’s lead singer Rivers Cuomo, pictured, performs during Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida on Saturday

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

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 by August 13, there was nearly 50,000 new daily cases of the coronavirus in Florida, causing a massive spike in positive tests before ultimately dropping back down to near-June 2021 levels last month.

The state is now averaging around 1,600 new COVID diagnoses daily, and around 57 deaths.  

As of Saturday, the Omicron COVID variant has spread to a third of US states, according to the Surgeon General.

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

Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular was canceled, again, as city officials said things won’t return to normal until 2022 due to the pandemic.

In NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s New Year’s Eve outdoor party at Times Square is still on, and masks aren’t required for vaccinated people. 

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

Firms have also warned workers expecting to come back to the office in early 2022 to continue working from home.  



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