California OKs Indoor Events as Covid-19 Cases Continue to Drop

The show will go on beginning April 15 for arenas, theaters, wedding venues and convention centers in the Golden State — provided guests can show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result.

Should Elton John want to launch another “Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour,” he’ll soon be able to make stops in California — though the crowds will have to be a lot smaller than he’s used to. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — After more than a year of pandemic-induced closures, California indoor concert venues, arenas, convention centers and wedding venues will jolt back to life in limited capacity later this month.

Beginning April 15, indoor performances as well as private gatherings can resume under new conditions announced Friday by the California Department of Public Health. The guidance means Californians will soon be able to attend indoor professional sporting events, concerts and hold weddings.

Officials said improving pandemic trends and expected increases in vaccine supply dictated the long-awaited green light for indoor entertainment.

“We’re responding to the environment where we’ve seen a continuing decline in infection rates and numbers, and a steady increase in the number of vaccinated and fully vaccinated Californians,” said Dee Dee Myers, director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

The new rules will apply to counties that have left the most restrictive purple tier of the state’s reopening blueprint. Event attendees will be required to maintain social distance and wear masks. Venues must offer designated areas for drinking and eating and only offer tickets to state residents.

In the red tier, capacity will be limited to 10% or 100 people. Capacity will be capped at 15% or 200 people for venues in counties in the orange tier and 25% or 300 people in the least restrictive yellow category.

Venues can increase capacity if they require guests to show full proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours. They can also offer sections where fully vaccinated fans can ditch social distancing and watch basketball or a concert shoulder-to-shoulder once again.  

Myers says the update is intended to give the state’s famous entertainment industry a chance to reopen, albeit with a laundry list of conditions.

“We’ve been saying for months that we would reopen the economy as quickly as is safe to do so and that we would continue to follow the science,” Myers told reporters. “We have done that.”

Friday’s announcement also gives a boost to the countless couples forced to delay their weddings over the last 13 months, as the state will allow indoor private events where guests similarly must show proof of vaccination or a negative test result. Wedding venues and convention centers can accommodate up to 100 people in the red tier, 150 in orange and 200 for yellow.   

Currently just three of the state’s 58 counties are in the lowest purple tier — Inyo, Merced and San Joaquin — while a combined 53 are in either red or orange.

The loosened industry guidance comes as California has now administered 18.4 million doses and over 20% of its 40 million residents are fully vaccinated. New infections also continue to plummet as the state’s testing positivity rate has been at or below 2% for multiple weeks and it is recording 4.7 new cases per 100,000 residents.

“Everything is moving in the correct direction,” state Public Health Officer Tomas Aragon emphasized.

Aragon added he isn’t concerned about unvaccinated people getting into shows by showing fake documents since the state is simultaneously removing all vaccine eligibility requirements on April 15. As of Thursday, the state made the shot available to anyone over the age of 50, regardless of preexisting condition.

During the telephonic press conference, the officials pushed back on the notion California is opening too quickly considering cases are spiking in other parts of the country. They reiterated masks and social distancing will remain staples of indoor events and that the state can toggle back the guidelines if needed.

“California will still be one of the most restrictive states in the country and will continue to move very slowly and cautiously,” said Myers.

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