The long-awaited reopening of California is almost here. But on June 15, not everything will go back to pre-pandemic times, especially when it comes to large events like concerts, festivals and fairs.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is removing capacity limitations, social distancing protocols and face covering requirements in almost all cases on June 15 -- except in cases where events draw thousands of visitors.
These events are called "mega events" by the CDPH, and have the greatest potential to spread the coronavirus among a large group, according to the agency.
While these types of events are still allowed to move forward with reopening on June 15, mega events must follow certain protocols. Here's what to know:
What is considered a mega event?
California defines a mega event as any event that draws 5,000 or more people indoors or 10,000 or more people outdoors. The most common type of mega events are sporting events, concerts, festivals, conventions and fairs.
Mega events are considered high-risk because of their wide appeal and large draw, meaning people from across the country -- and in some cases the world -- will want to attend. While at the event, people will inevitably gather in large crowds and be in close proximity to hundreds if not thousands of people, the state says.
What is required to attend a mega event?
There are two types of mega events: indoor events, like conventions, conferences, sporting events and concerts; and outdoor events, like music or food festivals, car shows, parades, outdoor concerts and more.
It is required that all attendees at indoor mega events show proof they are fully vaccinated or must have a negative COVID-19 test. It is up to the event to make those requirements clear to attendees.
It is only strongly recommended that outdoor mega events do the same. It will be up to event organizers to decide whether or not they will instill the requirement.
In addition, attendees at both indoor and outdoor events must wear face coverings based on current CDPH standards, which makes recommendations based on vaccination status. For those fully vaccinated, you can take off that face mask. For those who are not, a face covering is required.
What do I need to prove I can attend a mega event?
Attendees can either use their vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test to get into a mega event.
If using vaccination status:
Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks or more after they have received their second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks after their first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
People can verify their vaccination status with their vaccination card (which must include name, type of vaccine, and date of last dose administered); or a photo of their vaccination card, either printed or on their phone; or some other type of documentation of vaccination status from a health care provider.
If using negative COVID-19 test:
For those who are not vaccinated, proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required within 72 hours before the event start time. The results must be available before you are able to enter the venue.
A negative COVID-19 test can either be printed or shown as an email on your phone. But it must include your name, the type of test performed, the date the test was taken and a negative result.
Businesses will ask for one of these two documents either at the time you register/purchase tickets or on the day of event, just before you enter.
Am I at risk of getting COVID-19 if I attend a mega event?
The state of California reminds attendees that mega events are considered to be at higher risk for COVID-19 transmission because of a few key factors including:
- People spend extensive periods of time in close proximity to large numbers of people they don't typically interact with
- The amount of people an individual comes across (frequency) and the total amount of close contact between attendees is higher. This increases the chance that respiratory particles will be transmitted
- Mega events typically draw attendees from beyond the local community, inviting the opportunity for different variants to enter local communities
- Contact tracing will be more difficult given the number of mixing between groups and attendees
Is it legal for events to ask to see my vaccine card?
It is legal for a business like an event to ask for your vaccination status because it is up to each individual to decide whether to answer. A person can be turned away based on vaccination status.
"HIPAA governs doctors, hospitals, companies like that," said Matthew Kugler, associate professor of law at Northwestern University. "If your restaurant says, 'Hey, show me your medical record,' that's something they can say. You don't have to say 'Yes,' like you can be like, 'No, screw you, I'll go elsewhere.' But it isn't a HIPAA problem for them to ask to see it. It's only a HIPAA problem if they break into your doctor's office and steal it."
How long will these mega event protocols be in place?
These protocols are effective from June 15, 2021, to October 1, 2021. They could be extended beyond that. California Public Health officials will decide by Sept. 1, 2021, if that is necessary.