Atta Areqat, general manager at the Cinemark Playa Vista and XD movie theater
Atta Areqat, general manager at the Cinemark Playa Vista and XD movie theater, demonstrates how the theater is cleaned every morning prior to opening. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Pandemic Life

Indoor events can return in California later this month as COVID-19 conditions improve

Indoor live events and performances can resume in California this month with limitations amid declining COVID-19 rates and continuing vaccinations.

California will allow indoor live events and performances to resume with limitations this month, the latest rules to be relaxed amid declining COVID-19 case rates and continuing vaccinations.

Under new state guidance unveiled Friday, those types of activities would not be allowed in the purple tier — the most restrictive rung of California’s color-coded reopening roadmap — but could take place starting April 15 in the other three tiers, subject to capacity limits and other safety modifications.

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The changes are “a result of the progress we are making both in vaccinations and in controlling the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, said in a statement. “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.”

Even once the revisions go into effect, “California will still be one of the most restrictive states in the country,” Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, added in a phone call with reporters. “And we’ll continue to move very slowly and cautiously, but moving with some transparency toward more allowable activity.”

For venues with a capacity of up to 1,500 people, the new rules will be as follows:

  • In the red tier, the state’s second strictest, capacity would be limited to 10%, or 100 people — though that could increase to 25% if all guests are tested for COVID-19 or show proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated.
  • In the next step up the ladder, the orange tier, the capacity cap would be 15%, or 200 people, and increase to 35% if all guests are tested or fully vaccinated.
  • Maximum capacity would rise to 25%, or 300 people, in the least restrictive yellow tier, and could grow further to 50% if everyone is tested or completely vaccinated.

For larger-capacity venues, testing or proof of vaccination would be required and capacity limited to 20% in the red tier. The threshold would be 10%, or 2,000 people, in the orange tier — and could increase further to 35% if all attendees are tested or show proof of full vaccination.

The cap is also set at 10%, or 2,000 people, in the yellow tier, though capacity in those cases could increase to 50% if all guests are tested or fully vaccinated.

State officials also unveiled new guidance Friday pertaining to private events, gatherings and meetings.

Beginning April 15, outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed in the red tier, with the maximum size increasing to 50 people in the orange tier and 100 people in the yellow tier.

In the purple tier, outdoor gatherings are limited to three households.

Though state officials strongly discourage any indoor gatherings, such events are permitted with modifications in non-purple tiers.

Private events — like receptions or conferences — are only allowed outdoors in the purple tier, with capacity limited to 25 people. If everyone is either tested or completely vaccinated, attendance can increase to as many as 100 people.

Here are the rules for events in the other tiers:

  • Red tier: Outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people, increasing to 200 if all guests are tested or vaccinated. Indoor activities are allowed, with capacity limited to 100, if everyone is tested or shows proof of full vaccination.
  • Orange tier: Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people. Capacity increases to 300, and indoor activities of up to 150 people are allowed, with full testing and vaccination.
  • Yellow tier: Outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people can be held, increasing to 400 if all guests are tested or fully vaccinated. Indoor activities would be allowed with capacity limited to 200 if everyone is tested or inoculated.

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It’s the latest move by California to loosen COVID-19 restrictions as cases, deaths and hospitalizations have plummeted.

More areas of California — including Orange and Los Angeles counties — are seeing their coronavirus metrics improve to the point that they can more widely reopen businesses and other public spaces.

Both L.A. and Orange counties were cleared this week to progress into the orange tier.

With the move, a whole host of venues, including restaurants, bars, retail stores, museums and houses of worship, can increase their operations. The relaxed rules went into effect in Orange County on Wednesday, as soon as was allowed, but L.A. County officials said they were holding off until Monday.

More than 30% of Californians are now at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, and more than 18 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.