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California Sets Guidelines for Reopening Events Via Tiers

Late last month, the California Department of Public Health issued a new set of guidelines for live outdoor events and gatherings. This also includes graduation ceremonies and theme parks.

According to the new rules – and now that San Diego has entered the less restrictive red tier of the state’s color-coded four-tiered system – outdoor events and performances can resume in the county at a limited 20% capacity, among other protocols. This means that popular outdoor San Diego venues, like Humphreys Concerts by the Bay and the CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theatre, will likely begin to host concerts again soon.

Within the red tier, meaning there is “substantial” risk of infection, attendance at outdoor venues is: limited to 20% capacity; suites are limited to 25% occupancy with no more than three households, or no more than six people per household, physically distanced within each suite; attendees must be California residents; advance ticket reservations are required for all events; workers must be tested weekly; food and drink concessions must be delivered to guests in their seats or delivered to designated guest pickup areas; and indoor concessions must remained closed.

On the CalCoast website, the first performance listed is by funk metal band Primus and will take place on August 4. American singer Boz Scaggs is the first scheduled performer for late-June at Humphreys, according to its site.

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More performances may soon be scheduled now that the guidelines have been released.

The San Diego Symphony is looking to open The Shell, its permanent outdoor venue on the San Diego Bay, later this year. Martha Gilmer, CEO at the San Diego Symphony, says she and her team are encouraged by the latest reopening guidance issued by Governor Gavin Newsom’s office.

“The health of our musicians, staff and audience continue to be our number one priority,” she said. “We are developing safe reopening plans for the grand opening of our new state-of-the-art waterfront venue. The Symphony is grateful for (everyone’s) patience and will announce more details in the future.”

Loren Cobbs is founder of San Diego Melanin, a social group that curates both indoors and outdoors activations around town. She said she is “cautiously optimistic” about the state’s issued guidelines and San Diego entering the red tier.

“Safety is paramount to our team and community (and) we hope this allows us to explore returning to events in person albeit with smaller numbers and a good amount of space between us,” she said. “While it’s too early for us to begin activating immediately, we hope this allows more venues to open back up so we can explore future partnerships.”

Other Tiers

The purple tier, which means widespread risk of infection, outdoor venues that have assigned seating can open for performances or events with live audiences for up to 100 people; attendees must live within 120 miles of the venue; advance ticket reservations are required and ticket sales are not permitted on the day of the event or at the door; and all concessions must remain closed.

In the orange tier, also considered a moderate risk of infection, venues must limit capacity to 33%; if all guests show a negative test result within the 72 hours prior to attendance or show proof of full vaccination, venues can increase attendance capacity to 67%; suites are limited to 25% occupancy with no more than three households physically distanced within each suite, or six people from the same household; all attendees must be California residents with advance ticket reservations; workers must be tested weekly; food and drink concessions must be delivered to guests in their seats or delivered to designated guest pickup areas; and indoor concessions remain closed, except for designated seating areas that can operate at 25% capacity.

Lastly, as part of the yellow tier, which is defined as minimal risk of infection, venues can push capacity to 67% with no proof of vaccination or negative coronavirus test results required; and all the other orange tier requirements, with indoor designated seated dining areas allowed to operate at no greater than 50% of capacity.

Indoor Venues?

Ernie Hahn is general manager at Pechanga Arena and partner at Wonderfront Entertainment, which puts together the annual Wonderfont Music & Arts Festival downtown.

While these latest guidelines do not apply to most indoor venues, he says he is hopeful San Diego County will soon enter the next less restrictive color tier and that live events can be held indoors soon as well.

“The problem with the guidelines still remains when we can actually host live events as we still can’t do that indoors right now,” he said. “There have been some basic guidelines (issued) but until we get to certain areas in certain colors, we (at Pechanga Arena) can’t do events, which is problematic.”

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