The California Department of Health (CDPH) announced on Wednesday that a proof of vaccination or recent COVID-19 test would be required for indoor gatherings with 1,000 or more people beginning next month.
According to the new requirements, self-attestation will no longer be accepted as a way to enter events. Only proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours will be accepted for large indoor events with 1,000 people or more such as concerts, sporting events, or festivals. Large indoor events, defined by the CDPH as having over 10,000 people in attendance, did not receive a similar requirement but were recommended to not not use self-attestation of being vaccinated.
Masking still largely depends on the area, such as Los Angeles recently announcing that large outdoor events will require masks once again. Social distancing measures and capacity restrictions were also not brought back on Wednesday, although they are still being listed in case of any drastic changes.
The new vaccination/testing requirement is scheduled to go into effect beginning September 20th and will remain in place until at least November 1st. In their order, the CDPH named the rise of the delta variant outbreak and increasing COVID-19 cases in California as the main reason for the new indoor event mandate.
“California has made great strides in vaccinating its residents, with more than 75 percent of those eligible at least partially vaccinated,” said the CDPH in their order on Wednesday. “Although vaccinations provide a powerful protection against COVID-19 hospitalization and death, the Delta variant, which is currently the most common strain of COVID-19 in California, is highly transmissible and may cause more severe illness. 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.”
“Indoor settings are especially high risk for transmission. While universal masking reduces the spread of infectious droplets and aerosols, masks are often removed for eating and drinking. Activities like singing, yelling, or cheering increase transmission risk, even when masks are being worn.
“The requirements and recommendations for negative testing / vaccine verification will be in place effective September 20, 2021 through November 1, 2021. The state will assess conditions by October 15, 2021, to determine whether updated requirements or recommendations are needed beyond November 1, 2021.”
CDPH head Dr. Tomas Aragon added in a statement that “The Delta variant has proven to be highly transmissible, making it easier to spread in large crowds where people are near each other for long periods of time. By requiring individuals to be vaccinated, or test negative for COVID-19 at large events, we are decreasing the risk of infection, hospitalization and death.”
However, many called out the CDPH on Wednesday, noting that the added restriction of self-attestation would only lead to longer delays in checking, especially since around 75% of the state has either been fully or partially vaccinated so far.
“With masks in place and vaccinations being this high, it doesn’t make sense to hurt large businesses this way,” Modesto event planner Ginger Tran said to the Globe on Wednesday. “A lot of upcoming events, like larger sports viewing with the baseball playoffs and football season coming up, celebrations like Octoberfest, and larger church events usually held during the fall will need to put this in place due to the 1,000 people threshold. A lot of these events can’t afford to turn people away, especially on missing out last year. But now they are. Without self-attestation, a lot of people are going to be turned away. At least 25%, but probably a lot more due to people forgetting proof or not being believed on religious or medical exemptions.”
“It’s gotten really ugly with newer restrictions and mandates. Look at how many fights happened on airplanes alone this year. These restrictions will just further this along. They are literally following the policy of San Francisco, and it’s already hurting them there, as well as in New York. Now a lot of us are afraid it’s going to hurt the entire state. Again.”
Any extension of the new mandate will be decided on sometime in mid-October.
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