The group Dead & Company is offering a break to fans experiencing second thoughts about attending the Playing in the Sand festival in Mexico next month. The shows will go on as planned, but the band and festival promoter have set up a brief window in which ticket holders concerned about traveling during the omicron surge can get a full refund.
Deadheads don’t have too long to think about it, though. Refund requests are only being taken through 5 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve, at which point the window will close.
The sold-out Playing in the Sand gathering is set to take place in Cancun Jan. 7-10 and 13-16.
The refund offer represents an attempt at a compromise in a time when promoters, especially those offering travel packages, are being besieged by fans who want exceptions made amid the COVID resurgence to what are usually hard-and-fast no-refund policies. Many concerts and festivals are being postponed amid the omicron uncertainty, and the industry is seeing higher-than-usual no-show rates at shows that are carrying on.
Festivals that require travel packages to attend are a bigger source of concern for many fans, as they contemplate air travel and hotel stays as well as the prospect of crowds. So far, CID Entertainment is only offering refunds for the Dead & Company engagement. Other artist-led festivals the company has in the offing in Mexico include a four-night Luke Bryan event Jan. 19-22, Hootiefest: The Big Splash Jan. 26-29, a three-night Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds engagement Feb. 18-20, and a four-night Phish event Feb. 20-23.
“Dead & Company is the ONLY artist giving blanket refunds at this time for CID events,” band reps said. The statement noted that the group — an offshoot from the original Grateful Dead, fronted by John Mayer — is safety-conscious and was at the forefront of requiring vaccination proof on tour last summer before Live Nation and AEG moved to make that or negative tests an industry standard in most states. “As you know, Dead & Company has always had strict COVID protocols and those will not only continue in Mexico but even more safety measures have been put into place,” an email sent to fans read.
In announcing the refund window, Dead & Company reps emphasized measures that are being taken in conjunction with the festival — as well as inherent conditions, like the fact that the beach setting for the concerts has breezes averaging 15 mph. In a list of updates related to Playing in the Sand, band spokespeople said that all staff will be required to wear KN95 masks and be tested daily on top of being fully vaccinated; and guests will be required to mask up when not eating in indoor public spaces. Guests who test positive for COVID on arrival or prior to departure will be provided with complimentary quarantine rooms. Additionally, in an effort to keep attendees from leaving the resort and mingling with the unvaccinated, “all CID Presents-hosted off-site adventures have been canceled and will be automatically refunded.”
A form sent to passholders wanting a refund has to be submitted by 5 ET on Friday, with refunds set to be processed on the credit cards originally used within 60-90 days. “No refunds will be provided after the deadline, and by choosing not to be refunded, you are opting to keep your original package purchased,” the email reiterated.
Rolling Stone reported Wednesday that Dead & Company and CID had been under considerable pressure from fans to revise their nonrefundable policies amid the virus surge, using as an example a 68-year-old New Yorker named Bob Kleinman who had bought a $15,000 package for himself and his family but had been told he was out of luck if he was too fearful to go now.
A Change.org petition titled “Provide Refund Options for All Playing in the Sand ’22 Ticketholders” had more than 2,000 signatures by the time the refund window was announced Wednesday afternoon. “Packages were purchased 9 months ago and the climate of COVID has changed. Mexico has little to no COVID restrictions,” the petition said.