Sacramento, California (AFP) – Sports, theater and music fans will be able to take their seats again in California as the state’s coronavirus cases drop and vaccinations mount.
After a year-long ban on most indoor seats, the state Friday paved the way for an artisanal theater setup that could see the resumption of NBA games and live entertainment shows in most counties starting April 15th.
Most of the state’s 58 counties will be allowed to allow at least some indoor seats because they are located in the bottom three levels of California’s four-tier COVID-19 restriction plan. Large population centers such as San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and Los Angeles County all fall into the less restricted Orange II tier. Only three counties – San Joaquin, Merced and Inyo – remain in the highest purple tier, indicating the ‘spread’ of the COVID-19 threat.
Others will be allowed some indoor seating “with capacity limits and adjustments including physical spacing, advance ticket purchase, and eating and drinking areas, and attendance is restricted to visitors within the state,” according to the state’s public health announcement.
At the red level, venues for up to 1500 people can function at 10% capacity and grow to 25% if all guests present proof of vaccination or test negative. Venues with a capacity of 1,501 people or more with a capacity of 20% can operate in the Red Layer, but guests must show evidence of vaccination or a negative test. The capacity increases for the layers where the virus is less widespread.
State officials will not require testing or proof of vaccination for some of these events. Events that require testing and vaccinations will be allowed to have more paying customers than those who do not. Only people who live in California can attend these live shows.
The Los Angeles Lakers announced that fans would be allowed to return to Staples Center for a match on April 15 against the Boston Celtics.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said, “Obviously we don’t know exactly how many fans there will be yet, but just having some out there will bring us great energy. One of everyone’s favorite things is going to Lakers matches, and they couldn’t do that during this. Epidemic. “
Ben Bliman, a San Francisco nightlife activist and president of the California Music and Culture Association, said venues need the full capacity to make any money – but members will accept the change, albeit with fear.
“On the one hand, you have the excitement and pleasure of re-opening,” he said, adding on the other hand, “There is some dread that something goes wrong.”
California is easing COVID-19 restrictions as it recovers from the deadly wave of winter, though public health officials are still urging people to follow social distancing protocols and wear masks. Hospital admissions and deaths have declined, and the rate of people who test positive for the virus has reached an almost record low level.
California rules vary for private indoor gatherings, including weddings, meetings, or conferences. This is only allowed if all guests tested negative for Coronavirus at least 72 hours in advance or showed evidence of complete vaccination. The changes do not mention the requirement for proof of vaccination and place a lot of enforcement on business owners and operators.
“Allowing some of these activities and opportunities to impregnate individuals is an incentive,” said de De Myers, director of the governor’s office of business and economic development. “If they can get back to some of their favorite activities because they got vaccinated, then hopefully a few more people will go get the vaccine.”
The new rules appear to be pushing California toward a system for vaccine verification, an issue that is hotly debated across the country. New York has launched a digital pass that residents can use to show evidence of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test acceptable at major entertainment venues. But Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on Friday banning companies from requesting so-called “vaccine passports.”
President Joe Biden’s administration said the federal government would not come up with a national passport application for a vaccine, leaving that to the private sector. But the federal government makes regulations about how and when these passports are used.
California Public Health Officer Dr. Thomas Aragon said Friday that the state will follow in the footsteps of the federal government, but said vaccinations will not be required for essential services.
The new California rules come as the state administered nearly 19 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Approximately 6.9 million people were fully vaccinated in a state of nearly 40 million people. Only people 50 or older are eligible to get the vaccine now across the state, followed by those 16 and older on April 15.
Har from San Francisco.