California becomes 1st state to require proof of COVID vaccination or negative test for indoor events over 1,000 people

California
A general view of the crowd at 106.7 KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas 2016 is seen at The Forum in Inglewood on Dec. 10, 2016. (Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for CBS Radio)

A general view of the crowd at 106.7 KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas 2016 is seen at The Forum in Inglewood on Dec. 10, 2016. (Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for CBS Radio)

California will require proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to attend indoor gatherings of 1,000 or more people starting next month, a move the state says is the first of its kind in the nation.

The new rules, announced Wednesday, will take effect Sept. 20. They replace current standards that call for COVID-19 vaccine verification or a negative test for events with 5,000 or more attending, according to guidance from the California Department of Public Health.

The guidelines apply to events like concerts, sports games and parades.

A negative coronavirus test must be taken within 72 hours of the event’s start to be accepted. The testing requirement includes people who can’t get a vaccine, such as children under 12.

Additionally, self-attestation will no longer be accepted to verify vaccine status. Attendees will have to submit some form of proof, such as their vaccine card, QR code or a photo of their vaccine card.

The revised rules don’t cover venues like malls or museums “that are open to public circulation as part of their regular operations,” unless they host a large indoor event. Churches are also exempt, but public health officials recommend they follow the guidelines.

The requirements also apply to outdoor gatherings of 10,000 people or more. The rules are slated to remain in place through at least Nov. 1.

The move is aimed at encouraging more people to get vaccinated while decreasing the potential for the highly contagious delta variant to spread.

“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,” Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, California’s public health officer, said in a statement. “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.”

State public health officials said their guidelines are supported by many in the events industry, including top executives at Live Nation and AEG.

“Vaccination and health check requirements ensure everyone can continue enjoying live music while also encouraging even more people to go get vaccinated,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said in a statement.

More than 14,300 new infections and 90 fatalities were reported statewide Tuesday. The virus is largely spreading among unvaccinated people, whose case rate statewide is 500% higher than that of vaccinated individuals, CDPH said.

Meanwhile, around 79% of eligible Californians had been vaccinated as of Wednesday.

Other statewide vaccine mandates include one requiring California’s roughly 2.2 million health care workers to get vaccinated to keep their jobs and one saying teachers must either be vaccinated or tested weekly.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to require all city employees get vaccinated unless they have a medical or religious exemption.

L.A. County changed its rules for large events Tuesday, saying both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will have to mask up at gatherings of 5,000 or more people indoors and 10,000 or more outdoors. The face coverings must be immediately replaced after eating or drinking.

Both L.A. city and county officials are looking into options for requiring residents to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter certain indoor spaces. Some restaurants, bars and event organizers have already started requiring customers to show proof that they are vaccinated against COVID-19, or present a negative coronavirus test if they’re unvaccinated.

Goldenvoice, the music events company that puts on Coachella and Stagecoach, already announced last week it would require proof of full vaccination for concertgoers and event staff at all of its clubs, venues and festivals.

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