California expands vaccine proof order to indoor events of 1,000 or more
California health officials Wednesday said they will expand the requirement for vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for those attending large indoor events as the state continues to battle rising infections from the highly contagious delta variant of the virus.
The state had already required either vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours to attend events of 5,000 people or more. Wednesday’s order which takes effect Sept. 20 expands that to gatherings of 1,000 people or more, and requires proof of full vaccination rather than the “self attestation” of having been vaccinated that had been allowed.
“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,” California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón 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.”
The changes will remain in place until November 1, 2021, the department said.
Proof of vaccination can include the cards issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or WHO Yellow Card1 after vaccination, a photo of that vaccination card or image of it stored on a phone or electronic device, documentation from a healthcare provider or a digital record that includes a QR code, or documentation from contracted employers who follow these vaccination records guidelines and standards.
The announcement is among a flurry of new state and local public health orders that have come since California loosened face mask requirements and dropped most pandemic restrictions June 15 when officials believed the virus was in sustained retreat amid rising vaccinations.
Infections have soared since the first week of July, even in well-vaccinated places like the Bay Area, though cases have been mostly among those who haven’t had the shots.
In San Jose, Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled a new plan Wednesday to require proof of full vaccination against the coronavirus for events held at city-owned facilities, including the SAP Center, home of the NHL’s Sharks. It would take effect immediately if approved by a City Council majority Tuesday.
San Francisco already was set on Friday to begin requiring vaccination proof for everyone 12 years or older eligible for the shots at indoor events of 1,000 or more, as well as for patrons of bars, restaurants, clubs and gymnasiums.
The state in recent weeks has required vaccine verification or regular COVID-19 testing for state workers and for school teachers and staff, and mandated full vaccination for workers in health care settings by Sept. 30. California has recommended face masks in indoor public settings statewide, and required them in K-12 school buildings.
The Biden administration has made similar requirements for federal workers. On Wednesday, it unveiled plans to give a third “booster” shot to those already fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna messenger-RNA shots, citing evidence of waning effectiveness over time and against the delta variant.
The state health department cited broad support for its expanded event vaccine requirement from the entertainment and arts industry, where it is seen as a means of avoiding another devastating lockdown to keep the virus from spreading.
Michael Rapino, President and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, said in a statement that vaccination and health check requirements have been standard at its venues and festivals across the country, ensuring everyone can continue enjoying live music while also encouraging more people to go get the shots.
Worsening outbreaks nationwide have prompted a number of top entertainers to cancel concerts — country star Garth Brooks becoming the latest on Wednesday.
“We fully support California’s efforts and will stay in lockstep to keep bringing live music back to the Golden State,” Rapino said.
Dan Beckerman, President and CEO of AEG, said in a statement that “our fans, our team members and our families all want to feel as protected as possible from COVID-19 while enjoying our favorite concerts and sporting events.”
“Today’s announcement adds another layer of protection to make our state, our venues and our communities safer,” Beckerman said.
Julie Baker, Executive Director of Californians for the Arts, said “we must do everything we can to allow for secure gatherings.”