Traveling has always come with complications, but the coronavirus pandemic has made it more challenging than ever. Our By The Way Concierge column will take your travel dilemmas to the experts to help you navigate the new normal. Want to see your question answered? Submit it here.

Are music festivals too risky? Some friends and I have plans to attend a music festival that requires proof of vaccination or a negative test. Everyone in our group is fully vaccinated, and we intend to avoid indoor spaces completely. We plan to do our best to stay out of the most crowded parts, i.e. mosh pits, and wear N95 masks whenever social distancing is not possible. Given our approach, how much risk are we taking on? And what are some of the risk factors and potential ethical questions we should consider? — Anonymous

In a By The Way Concierge first, every single public health expert I talked to had the same take on your question: Go to the music festival.

Given all of the parameters you laid out to reduce most of your coronavirus risks, “this person has my blessing to go to the music festival,” said Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of population health and disease prevention at University of California at Irvine.

Of course, as with everything during the pandemic, he had a few caveats.

For starters, his seal of approval is “not the same as a watertight guarantee that they won’t get a breakthrough case,” Noymer said. “There are no absolutely watertight guarantees right now given where transmission is at in most of the country.”

Even vaccinated, you will want to take the typical pandemic precautions to protect yourself while you travel — mask-wearing, practicing good hand hygiene, and being mindful about crowds in places such as hotel lobbies and airports.

Secondly, Noymer said if you’re eligible to get a vaccine booster shot (you can check to see on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website), he recommends doing that ahead of the festival.

“And the last thing is, if this person lives with their 87-year-old grandmother, then they should consider maybe doing an at-home test five days after getting back from the music festival just for an abundance of caution,” Noymer said. “Or a PCR test if the at-home tests are not available.”

As far as your question of ethics, Brian C. Castrucci, the president and CEO of public health charity de Beaumont Foundation, acknowledged that you could get a breakthrough case from a festivalgoer or from someone who used a fake vaccine card to get in.

But “you’ve got to make the decision for you, and it’s a low-risk engagement,” Castrucci said. “It’s hard for us as public health officials because I can’t tell you there is no risk.”

Jonathan Baktari, a pulmonary and critical care expert and CEO of e7 Health, noted that there are some risks involved with traveling to a music festival, but “it’s very difficult to catch covid-19 outdoors, period.”

“If you’re vaccinated to begin with, I would say the risk is pretty minimal in terms of serious consequences,” Baktari said, adding that he encourages anyone traveling to get a booster shot if it’s available.

You might find this to be a relief or depressing or both, but Noymer said we need to learn to live with the threat of the coronavirus.

“Covid is going to be with us in some way, shape or form for years,” he said. “And I think the time has come for people to start acting in concert — pun intended — with their own tolerance for risk.”

Castrucci was on the same page. All things considered, he would go to the festival, too.

“We do have to get back to enjoying the music,” he said.

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