CALIFORNIA, USA — In a major advancement in the state's COVID-19 economic recovery, California health officials announced changes Friday that will allow a resumption of indoor activities such as concerts, conferences and theater performances and a return of fans to indoor sporting events.
The rules, however, include strict capacity mandates based on counties' tier placement within the state's economic-reopening blueprint, along with requirements for attendees to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID- 19 tests.
The new rules will take effect April 15 -- subject to the approval of local health authorities, who are permitted in each county to impose stricter regulations than the state allows.
"Today's update to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy is a result of the progress we are making both in vaccinations and in controlling the spread of COVID-19," according to a statement from Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary. "By following public health guidelines such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated when eligible, we can resume additional activities as we take steps to reduce risk."
"It's a first step with what came out today, and hopefully it is the first of many that will help us get back to work," said Kevin Hellman, founder of San Diego Event Coalition.
The county is also currently working with the local events industry to waive the considerable permit fees levied on events: a move that the County Board of Supervisors will put to a vote next Tuesday.
This decision to waive event fees would "be a big help for some of us to get back to work and actually make a living," Hellman told News8.
Hellman also pointed out that, even with these changes for private events, there is still a long way to go to get the events industry fully back in business.
"If you look at the tier system right now, outdoor community events still are not listed," he added. "It doesn't say "Can't open".... We're not even an industry that's in the tier system."
For private events such as receptions or conferences:
Purple Tier Events
Counties in the most restrictive purple tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy can permit outdoor gatherings up to 25 people, or up to 100 people if all attendees show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
Red Tier Events
In the red tier, the outdoor gatherings can be 50 people or up to 200 with vaccination/testing proof, while indoor gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted with vaccination/testing proof.
Orange Tier Events
In the orange tier, outdoor gatherings can be 100 people or up to 300 with vaccination/testing, while indoor activities are permitted for 150 people with vaccination/testing.
Yellow Tier Events
In the yellow tier, outdoor gatherings are allowed up to 200 people, or 400 with vaccination/testing, and indoor events allowed up to 200 people, with vaccination/testing of all attendees.
For indoor live events and performances, which state officials said includes sports arenas, theaters and other event venues, such events are banned in counties in the restrictive purple tier, but permitted in other tiers, with varying capacities, advance ticket purchases, physical distancing, designated eating/drinking areas and in-state guests only.
For venues with a capacity of up to 1,500 people:
Red Tier Venues
In the red tier, capacity is limited to 10% or 100 people, and capacity increases to 25% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination;
Orange Tier Venues
In the orange tier, capacity is limited to 15% or 200 people, increasing to 35% if all guests are tested or vaccinated; and
Yellow Tier Venues
In the yellow tier, capacity is limited to 25% or 300 people, increasing to 50% with testing/vaccination of all guests.
For venues with a capacity of 1,501 or higher:
Red Tier Capacity
In the red tier, capacity is limited to 20% with testing or vaccination proof required for all guests
Orange Tier Capacity
In the orange tier, capacity is limited to 10% or 2,000 people, increasing to 35% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination; and
Yellow Tier Capacity
In the yellow tier, capacity is limited to 10% or 2,000 people, increasing to 50% if all guests are tested or vaccinated.