Amid rising concerns over the delta variant, California will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend indoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people, state officials announced in a public memo on Wednesday (Aug. 18).
The new restrictions go into effect Sept. 20, affecting events like concerts and sports games. California already has this requirement for indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people, but attendees haven’t had to show proof. Now, state officials are requiring attendees to bring proof of either vaccination or a negative test received within 72 hours of the event. The testing requirement includes people who can’t get the vaccine, such as children under 12.
The same rules are recommended, but not required, for outdoor gatherings of 10,000 people or more. Shopping malls, museums and other venues that are “open to public circulation as part of their regular operations” are exempt from the rule, unless they are hosting a qualifying event.
The new rules are slated to remain in place through at least Nov. 1, and state officials say they will decide whether an extension is needed by Oct. 15.
Governor Gavin Newsom initially announced California’s triumphant reopening in June, lifting nearly all coronavirus restrictions on businesses and gatherings, but he has been quick to reverse course amid the rise of COVID-19 cases in the state. The statewide rule change is intended to encourage more people to get vaccinated, while decreasing transmissions of the delta variant, which is currently the most common strain of COVID-19 in California, according to the California Department of Public Health memo.
“California is currently experiencing the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases during the entire pandemic with 25.7 new cases per 100,000 people per day, with case rates increasing eleven-fold within two months,” the memo reads. “Given the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, additional precautionary measures must be taken in large, indoor events, which have the potential to cause large, substantial, and severe outbreaks.”
The rule change follows a new masking mandate that goes into effect in Los Angeles tonight, requiring attendees at outdoor gatherings of more than 10,000 people to wear a facial covering, regardless of vaccination status. A mask mandate has already been in place for indoor spaces since July 17.
Venues and promoters across the nation are tightening restrictions. Live Nation, the world’s biggest concert company, will require artists and fans at all of its fully owned and operated venues and festivals to show proof of vaccination or a negative test starting Oct. 4. Its biggest competitor, AEG, will require proof of vaccination for entry to all of its owned and operated clubs, theaters and festivals starting Oct. 1, and will not accept a negative test as an alternative.