Fresno Convention Center file photo
Written by Breanna Hardy
After a year-long absence of shoulder-to-shoulder private events, the California Department of Public Health announced new guidelines to bring entertainment back safely. This comes as California case rates sit at a record low.
Effective April 15, venues can begin reopening indoors. For counties in the purple tier, indoor concerts, sporting events and theater productions aren’t allowed. In the red tier, venues with capacity at or below 1,500 people can operate at 10%, or 25% if all guests provide evidence of either a negative Covid test or proof of a vaccine. Venues that can house at least 1,501 people can operate at 20% capacity. As counties move further down the tier scale, total allowable capacity will increase.
In addition, venues can offer sections specific to fully-vaccinated individuals. These individuals may sit shoulder-to-shoulder, though masks will still be required. For those not fully vaccinated, social distancing and masking will be required.
The guidance includes venues such as theaters, sports stadiums, meetings, wedding receptions, and conferences. Convention centers may follow the blueprint for private events.
Dr. Tomás Aragón, state public health officer and director, said the new guidelines will be a pathway to allow venues to meet greater capacities.
Ray Roa, director of sales and marketing for the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center, said the updates are a step in the right direction, but officials need guidance on how to hold large-scale meetings and events like the ones his venue typically hosts.
When asked about if attendees might use fake vaccination cards, Aragón said, “I think most people will be honest because the vaccines are freely available.”
Equity barriers are coming down and eligibility is increasing, Aragón said.
In addition, when California surpasses 4 million residents vaccinated, blueprint tiers will be more permissive.
Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom, said, “California will still be one of the most restrictive states in the country and will continue to move slowly and cautiously.”
Myers said that enhancing private event guidelines will incentivize getting vaccinated.
“We should all be really proud of where we are right now,” Aragón said. “The numbers are moving in a really good direction.”
The Associated Press contributed to this reporting.