Oklahoma mayor says 'it is not the right time' for Weedstock music festival

Slover Morrison, Nakia McNabb and Amir Vera, CNNPublished 18th August 2020
Stillwater, Oklahoma
(CNN) — The annual Weedstock music festival is set to begin Thursday, bringing in thousands to Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Yet the Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce said in a Twitter thread last week that "it is not the right time for thousands of people to gather for a 3-day music festival." There have been more than 48,000 positive cases in Oklahoma since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University. Stillwater, which is an hour north of Oklahoma City, has had over 600 cases and three deaths.
The festival could disrupt the ability for Oklahoma State University and city public schools to educate students in person, Joyce said, and would put an added strain on local hospitals.
CNN reached out to one of the event's representatives, who did not wish to be identified, but stated they plan to have several safety measures in place. These include a mask mandate, digital ticket system, and masks and gloves for all employees.
"Organizers say they have purchased thousands of dollars worth of personal protective equipment including mask, gloves and plexi-glass," the representative said. "We will have masks on hand for anyone arriving without a mask so that they can enter the festival. If someone refuses to wear a mask inside they will be asked to leave."
The representative compared the event to college football.
"We are doing more than what is required of us. College football is coming back and they have more people scheduled to attend than we do, so what is the difference? A college football stadium has less space to socially distance than we have at the festival," the representative said.
The representative told CNN the event covers 60 acres and should provide plenty of room for social distancing. The event takes place outside city limits so the mayor is unable to enforce any particular policies. Instead, city officials reached out to Weedstock event managers to discuss safety procedures for the event.
Mayor Joyce also encouraged people to consider public health.
"I'm asking people to consider the general welfare of our community and make the responsible and caring decision not to attend this event at this time," he said.