Prepping for the Playa in the Age of COVID-19

As of mid-March 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present too many unknown factors for Burning Man Project to be able to determine if we can safely proceed with Black Rock City 2021. Yet, we believe it’s important to continue carefully planning for a potential 2021 event. If the public health situation and cooperating government agencies support the building of Black Rock City in late summer, we’ll be ready to move forward when it’s safe.

As fellow global citizens and supporters of Burning Man culture, we hope you, your crew, and your community stay safe with respect to COVID-19. If you are preparing to return to Black Rock City in 2021, we encourage you to implement a COVID-19 safety plan in each and every step in your journey to bring your art, mutant vehicle, theme camp or other offering to and from the playa.

Whether we meet on the playa or celebrate out in the world this coming August into September, we relish and encourage the opportunity for us to bring friends, communities and our shared culture together. Ours is a culture of collaboration, connection and celebration. The journey to be with others, innovate ideas, and push through uncertainty is worth the work. At the same time, we do not believe shortcutting health and safety protocols is the right path forward.

In the meantime, as we continue to navigate the global pandemic and participants prepare their art, camps, mutant vehicles and selves, please do what you need to do to safely engage with your community.

Last November we gathered a task force of experts to dive into the science around COVID-19 and explore the possibility of returning to Black Rock City in 2021, and beyond if the pandemic affects us beyond this year. We are currently evaluating COVID-19 mitigation measures to help ensure participant and staff safety at the event. To read more about these potential measures, as well as what we currently know and don’t know about returning to the playa this year, read this Burning Man Journal post from February 18.

For further reading, numerous resources are available to support you, your crew, and your community:

  • Many Americans use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to glean information about COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The World Health Organization’s website is another good resource, particularly if you live outside of the US.
  • We are watching travel restrictions and advisories carefully. Here is where they currently are for the United States. For our international friends, we suggest you check your government requirements for COVID-safe gatherings and travel. We want to lean in towards what we all can do to make it easier to connect across borders as soon as possible.
  • Read Burning Man Project stories during COVID, including work that regional groups, artists, and volunteers from various BRC departments have done this past year.

Please stay safe, everyone. We look forward to collaborating in whatever ways we can to keep the Burn alive.

You can also subscribe to the Jackrabbit Speaks and the Burning Man Journal to stay up to date on the latest Black Rock City 2021 information including COVID-19 updates.

COVID-19 Task Force

The world has changed dramatically since the last time we gathered together in the Nevada desert. Vigilantly guarding the health and safety of our event now, like never before, will directly affect the well-being of every member of our global community (as well as those we may come into contact with before and after the event) — participants, artists, staff, volunteers, founders, and visitors alike. COVID-19 is a vicious pathogen that cuts across every demographic, regardless of age, gender, orientation, race, income level, nationality, or faith.

As of this writing, COVID-19 has infected over 95,000,000 people globally (24,000,000 in the U.S. alone) according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, and killed over 2,000,000 people worldwide (more than 400,000 in the U.S.). This pandemic is — to use a word that became all-too-familiar to us in 2020 — unprecedented.

So, how do we proceed?

 

Simply put: together, and with great care. We have gathered the best experts in science, medicine, and public health policy and followed their advice. We created a COVID-19 Task Force composed of experts in epidemiology, pre-hospital care and transport, hospital care and treatment, and public health. As is typical of our amazing community, members of this COVID-19 Task Force are also Burners and members of our Emergency Services Department (ESD), so they already know all about us, our event, and our culture.

The mission of this Task Force is to review the latest science, medicine, and policy to make the best and safest recommendations to Burning Man Project about building Black Rock City in 2021 and beyond. It’s a mighty task, for sure, and this team is up to the challenge.

Listed below are the members of our COVID-19 Task Force, along with their educational credentials, professional background, and on-playa experience.

Meet the Task Force