Community Care: Living and Working Together in Black Rock City 2022

As we reunite after a long pause, we’re faced with new challenges, as well as many opportunities to care for ourselves and each other. We haven’t done this beautiful thing in a few years, and many of us are still figuring out how to be social with others on this scale.

There will not be any health or COVID-19-related entry requirements for Black Rock City this year. This means that Burning Man will not require proof of vaccination or a negative test as a condition of entry. This decision was made after careful consideration and ongoing conversations over the last year, following the guidance of medical experts, and observing how other events and gatherings have operated safely.

Instead, we are sharing some cultural parameters that we hope will create a healthy and safe event. We’re all in this together!

Here are some common sense guidelines we’ve come up with to help us better enjoy our experience in Black Rock City this year:

  • Contemplate ahead of your arrival in BRC how you’ll navigate the health, safety, and social aspects of your Burn. Reacquainting ourselves with being in close proximity to so many people provides a powerful opportunity to practice patience, compassion, kindness, and strong communication.
  • Encourage your campmates to read the Survival Guide before they pack – not after they’re already on the road! It’s chock full of info that’ll help you plan for a safe, healthy, and happy return to the desert.
  • Do whatever you can to engage safely with your community! For some that might mean getting a COVID-19 vaccine before the event. For others it could be COVID-19 testing before you arrive in BRC, and in BRC if you feel sick or think you’ve been exposed. Perhaps wearing a mask and/or social distancing is right for you.
  • Consent is queen! And it’s not just about sex. Ask permission before offering a hug or touching someone else, whether you know them or not. Respect the fact that others may want more space than usual this year. There could be a wide range of comfort levels on playa in 2022.
  • Healthy boundaries are cool! When you’re with your fellow Burners, express what you are comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with.
  • Participants of all ages come to BRC. Keep in mind that our city welcomes everyone, and that includes the more vulnerable in our community such as the elderly and immune-compromised.
  • Vaccination status, health status, concern about safety precautions, or COVID-related disagreements are not justification to treat others with disrespect. Lead every interaction with kindness and care.

Finally, here are a few additional tips from our Emergency Services Department for all participants to help minimize the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 at the event, what to do if you suspect you have COVID-19 while in BRC, and how to access related support services.

  • If you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster and haven’t received one yet, do so at least two weeks prior to arriving on playa.
  • The week prior to arrival and the week after departure from BRC, avoid indoor gatherings in poorly ventilated settings or densely packed outdoor gatherings. If this is not possible, consider wearing a mask in these situations.
  • Take a rapid home test before driving to and after leaving BRC. Please do not enter BRC if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive within 10 days.
  • Bring enough COVID-19 antigen (rapid) tests for yourself, and extras for others in your camp. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or if you have any symptoms, please test! U.S. residents can order eight free tests here.
  • Bring N95 or KN95 masks with you (and some to share if you have extras!). Some staff spaces will require participants to wear a mask before interacting, so you will not be permitted in some areas without a mask.
  • If you suspect you have COVID-19 while in BRC, or you are experiencing symptoms, consider how to best help protect others*. Please isolate yourself for five days. If you must be around others, keep six feet of distance and wear a mask. Following your isolation, continue to mask up in social settings with a well-fitting N-95 for the duration of the event.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19 and need emergency care for symptoms you cannot control on your own at camp, go to an Emergency Services Department (ESD) station while wearing a well-fitting N-95 mask. Please let the volunteers there know you tested positive so they can initiate safety measures. This is both for your own wellbeing and the protection of everyone around you. As with all medical services on playa, any care you receive will be confidential and anonymous.
  • We understand that for many people the pandemic has been extremely impactful. There are mental health support services available in BRC if you or someone in your camp needs them. Please go to either a Ranger or ESD station to connect with these services.

Share this page with your campmates! We’ve made it together this far — let’s have 2022 be the year of respect, resilience, and love.

*All persons diagnosed with COVID-19 should isolate themselves for 5 days and wear a well-fitting mask when around others for 10 days, according to the CDC. The CDC recommendations for ending isolation after infections with SARS-COV2 vary depending on disease severity and immune status. Recommendations for quarantine and subsequent testing after exposure to SARS-COV2 vary depending on your vaccination status or recent diagnosis of COVID-19. More specific details can be found on their website here:

You’re Sick or Hurt in Black Rock City. What are Your Options?

The first thing you should do is determine whether you can treat yourself using a personal or camp first aid kit. We’ve got a list of essential items here.

  • Pro tip: Playa foot is a common complaint. This is your skin’s response to the alkali conditions, and it’s not fun. A soak in a 4:1 water-to-vinegar mix for 20 minutes each day will help this. Then lotion up and put some socks on for a soothing treat.

If your illness or injury is more severe than you can manage yourself, ask your campmates for assistance. Alternatively, get yourself to one of our medical stations at 3:00+C and 9:00+C. Look for the large red crosses. The main Emergency Services Department (ESD) station and the Rampart Emergency Care Center are co-located at the 5:15 and Esplanade site. 

Any Black Rock Ranger (look for the khaki shirts) or ESD (look for the yellow shirts) staff, or really anyone you see with a radio can help you in finding the right care. Remember that all care (medical and otherwise) at BRC is non-judgmental — we are not the morality patrol.

If on-site medical providers feel you have a medical emergency that requires a higher level of care, you may need to visit a hospital in Reno. This may require transport by an ambulance, plane, or helicopter. You’ll want to have your ID, insurance card, cell phone, Black Rock City entry ticket, and wallet when you go. You’ll be asked to sign a Release of Information form, which gives us permission to tell your friends and family where you went. You’ll need to arrange for a friend to pick you up after your hospital visit; there are no shuttles back to the playa.

If you need medical help while driving to or from the playa, the nearest clinic from the East is Pershing General Hospital in Lovelock. Westbound, there are several hospitals in Reno.

  • Pro tip: Bring an adequate supply of your medications (even the ones you rarely use when at home), plus a little extra in case your departure is delayed. The closest pharmacies are in Fernley or Reno. Keep all medications in their original prescription containers in order to avoid BLM citations. Don’t come to Black Rock City if you’ve just had major surgery and make sure your shots — particularly tetanus — are up to date!

H.A.L.T. — The Warning Signs of Buzzkill

H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. If not recognized and dealt with, you risk making yourself and those around you miserable. H.A.L.T. is an invitation to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Watch this video for more info.

Did You Know the Costs Can Be Significant If You Get Transported off Playa via MedEvac?!

This potentially life-saving ride is the one nobody plans to take: an emergency medical transport to one of the Reno hospitals. Even if you have insurance, you still might end up facing some significant out-of-pocket expenses for the flight. Of course it is considerably worse if you have no insurance at all! 

Every year, it seems, we hear a story or two of a Burner who gets airlifted off playa.  Chances are good you’ll never need it, but if you have a complicated pre-existing condition or you are a good little scout and believe in preparedness, it’s worth considering a $50 membership from AirMedCare Network to protect you financially. Membership application is here.

Get Showered with… WHAT?!? (Ewwww, gross.)

Sharing a shower with someone you love is awesome, but doing it behind one of our road watering trucks is the opposite of awesome because the non-potable water they use might contain icky things that can make you sick.

While we’re on the subject of community bathing, it’s cool to set up a shower for your camp (so long as you have a system for containing / evaporating the water), but public showers, pools and slip ’n slides are prohibited; there’s no legal way to make them safe. Stick to the solar showers.

Your Mom was Right — Wash Your Hands!

The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health strongly recommends each camp have hand-washing stations set up for regular hand-washing use. Remember, “Handwashing is like a ‘do-it-yourself’ vaccine,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carrying (and using) hand sanitizer is a good start, but there’s no substitute for washing with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds as the most effective way to reduce norovirus contamination on the hands.