Consumers in California will once again be allowed to attend events in person, even indoors, beginning on April 15. The state is loosening restrictions on in-person events for the first time in over a year due to rapidly declining COVID rates across most of the most populous states’ 58 counties. Attendance at outdoor events is already allowed in most instances.
Indoor attendance will be allowed at varying levels depending on a county’s status on the state’s four-tiered COVID-19 restrictions. All but the highest puple tier, which indicates “widespread” risk, allow for some level of indoor seating “with capacity limits and modifications including physical distancing, advance ticket purchases, designated areas for eating and drinking, and attendance limited to in-state visitors,” according to the state public health announcement of the policy.
Venues in counties that are designated to be in the state’s red tier with fewer than 1,500 seats can operate at 10 percent capacity, 25 percent if all attendees are verified to be fully vaccinated or show proof of a recent negative COVID test. Larger venues can operate at 20 percent, with requirements for vaccination or recent negative test in place across the board. Lower tiers allow for higher attendance numbers.
“Obviously we don’t know exactly how many fans will be there yet, but just having some in there will bring us great energy,” says Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel, whose team won the 2020 NBA title in a modified bubble format in Florida. “It’s one of everybody’s favorite things to do is go to Lakers games, and they haven’t been able to do that during this pandemic.”
According to health officials, nearly 7 million residents are fully vaccinated out of 40 million, with nearly 19 million doses already administered in total. Currently, only residents ages 50 and over are eligible for the shot, but the state opens up appointments for all ages 16 and over on April 15 – the same day the new event freedoms are allowed.
State officials hope that tying venue capacities to vaccination and testing will encourage residents to get the shots when they are eligible. While they stopped short of requiring any kind of vaccine passport as a part of this tiered plan, the incentive for event and venue operators to require vaccination or testing as a part of their event access is enormous.
“Allowing some of these activities and opportunities to vaccinated individuals is an incentive,” said Dee Dee Myers, director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. “If they can return to some of their favorite activities because they’re vaccinated, then hopefully a few more people will go and get vaccinated.”