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  • Writer's pictureAlegria Sita

California is Once Again Launching Guidance for Events Beginning January 15, 2022.

Here we are in the beginning of January 2022, experiencing yet again, the worst surge California has seen since the Covid pandemic began in 2020. Fortunately, it does not appear that the new guidance will affect the gatherings of my 2022 clients; however, as we've learned, circumstances can change quickly.

The following guidance from CDPH is effective January 15, 2022, and will supersede all prior Beyond the Blueprint for Industry and Business Sectors guidance.

Updates as of December 31, 2021:

  • Lowered threshold for Indoor Mega Event to 500 attendees and Outdoor Mega Event to 5,000 attendees.


Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 410% and the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients has increased by 63%. In addition, the recent emergence of the Omicron variant[1] (it is estimated that approximately 70% of cases sequenced, nationally, are Omicron and rapid increases are occurring globally) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts to continue protecting against COVID-19.

Early data also suggest the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant is two to four times as infectious as the Delta variant, and there is evidence of immune evasion.

On June 15, California fully reopened the economy and moved beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. All sectors listed in the Blueprint Activities and Business Tiers Chart (PDF) returned to usual operations (with the limited exceptions noted below for Mega Events).

California led the nation in emerging from the Delta surge in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. This is due in large part to the collective efforts of Californians to get vaccinated and wear masks. Vaccination remains the ultimate exit strategy out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we still have a ways to go. Although infection rates had been decreasing, they are increasing again, and at least 42 counties continue to experience high transmission, as classified by the CDC.

Ongoing vigilance is necessary to protect against COVID-19. This continues to be the case for large, indoor events, which have the potential to cause large, substantial, and severe outbreaks. As we enter the winter season, more Californians and others entering California will be participating in indoor events and traveling across the state, country, and the globe, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Large events involve several factors that increase the risk of transmission including (a) persons attending often travel from outside the immediate area, from areas with higher levels of transmission, and some types of travel may increase the risk of exposure; (b) events have prolonged duration; (c) crowding is common in large events; (d) even in counties or venues with universal masking requirements, masks are removed for eating and drinking; and (e) the larger the number of people gathered in crowded settings, the greater the likelihood that contagious persons are present and the more individuals who are exposed with the potential of becoming infected and spreading infections within their families, communities, schools, and workplaces.

The risk of spreading COVID-19 is decreased when all parties are vaccinated. Vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result verification, especially indoors, is an additional, important strategy to reduce transmission in large gatherings, especially where masks are removed for eating, drinking and where activities (like singing, yelling, or cheering) that increase transmission risk are occurring, even when masks are being worn. In the context of concerning levels of transmission throughout much of the state, country, and worldwide and the ongoing risk of large gatherings, it is important that these mitigation strategies remain in place.

On December 1, all attendees age 18 and older were required to provide identification to confirm the individual presenting proof of vaccination or negative test is the attendee entering the facility or venue. This additional measure is important at this time given that the frequency of indoor events will rise during this winter season, and many individuals attending these events may be coming from states and other countries that are experiencing higher rates of COVID transmission. Many events may also include families with children who are unable to receive the vaccine, or those who may be at high-risk for severe illness or death.

On December 15, testing for Mega Events was required to be conducted within one day for antigen tests, and within two days for PCR tests prior to entry into the facility or venue.

Through this public health guidance, the threshold for Indoor Mega Events is lowered to 500 attendees and for Outdoor Mega Events to 5,000 attendees. Facilities and venues that are newly covered by this guidance must be in full compliance with this new requirement no later than January 15, 2022.

This new measure brings added layers of mitigation as the Omicron variant is increasingly detected across California, the United States, and the world and is likely to spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and potentially the Delta variant.

It is important that we continue to protect our communities by ensuring that all attendees have taken all required measures to protect themselves and those around them.

These restrictions and recommendations will continue to be updated as CDPH continues to assess conditions on an ongoing basis.

In workplaces, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or in some workplaces the CalOSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard, and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.

Limited Requirements for Mega Events:

Mega Events are characterized by large crowds greater than 500 indoor OR 5,000 outdoor attendees. Mega Events may have either assigned or unassigned seating, and may be either general admission or gated, ticketed, and permitted events. Mega Events do not include venues such as shopping malls or museums that are open to public circulation as part of their regular operations, except to the extent that such venues host qualifying events.

Mega Events are considered higher risk for COVID transmission because:

  • Participants and attendees are spending extensive periods of time physically close to large numbers of people they don't usually interact with.

  • The frequency and total duration of close contact between attendees is increased, thereby increasing the risk that respiratory particles will be transmitted between attendees and participants.

  • They draw from beyond the nearby community and will often draw attendees and participants from other states and countries who may be infected with more infectious COVID variants.

  • Effective contact tracing may be difficult given the number of potential uncontrolled mixing between groups and attendees among individuals who are unlikely to be together again and the nature of the events.

For Indoor Mega Events (example: conventions/conferences/expos/sporting events and concerts):

In addition to the general public health recommendations:

  • Verification of fully vaccinated status* or pre-entry negative test** result is required of all attendees.

  • Indoor venue and event operators may not use self-attestation as a mode of verification.

  • All businesses and venue operators must check the identification of all attendees age 18 and over to validate their vaccination record or proof of negative test.

  • Acceptable identification is any document that includes the name of the person and photograph.

  • Attendees must follow CDPH Guidance for Face Coverings.

  • Information will be prominently placed on all communications, including the reservation and ticketing systems, to ensure guests are aware of testing and vaccination requirements (including acceptable modes of verification).

  • Venues should make masks available to attendees upon request.

For Outdoor Mega Events (example: music or food festivals/car shows/large endurance events and marathons/parades/sporting events and concerts):

In addition to the general public health recommendations:

  • Verification of fully vaccinated status or pre-entry negative COVID test result is strongly recommended for all attendees.

  • If implemented, venue and event operators are recommended to not use self-attestation as a mode of verification but rather use verification options for providing proof of vaccination in the CDPH Vaccine Record Guidelines & Standards.

  • Attendees must follow CDPH Guidance for Face Coverings. Consistent with that guidance, attendees should also wear masks at outdoor events when they enter indoor areas, such as restrooms, restaurants, retail shops, concourses, or concession stands.

  • Information will be prominently placed on all communications, including the reservation and ticketing systems, to ensure guests are aware that the State strongly recommends that they be fully vaccinated or obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending the event.

  • Venues should make masks available to attendees upon request.

Additional recommendations for sponsors of Mega Events:

  • Encourage everyone to get vaccinated when eligible.

  • Facilitate increased ventilation of indoor spaces (i.e., open all windows and doors to increase natural air flow), following current CDPH and CalOSHA guidance.

  • Encourage everyone to sign up for CA Notify as an added layer of protection for themselves and the community to receive alerts when they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Encourage those who test positive for COVID-19 to alert CA Notify to anonymously notify those who may have been exposed.

  • Convey the risk of attending large, crowded events where the vaccine status of others in attendance may be unknown to the individuals.

  • Convey the risk of attending large, crowded events for populations that may not currently be eligible for vaccination or may be immunocompromised and whose vaccine protection may be incomplete.

  • Encourage all venues along any parade or event route to provide outdoor spaces for eating/drinking/congregating to reduce the risk of transmission in indoor settings.

* Fully vaccinated

  1. Definition: See current CDPH Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Persons for definitions, acceptable vaccines, and updates on additional vaccines as they are approved.

  2. Verification: See current Options for Providing Proof of Vaccination in the CDPH Vaccine Record Guidelines & Standards for acceptable methods of vaccine verification.

** Pre-entry negative testing

  1. Definition: Testing must be conducted within one day for an antigen test and within two days for a PCR test prior to entry into an event. Results of the test must be available prior to entry into the facility or venue. Children under 2 years of age are exempt from the testing requirement, consistent with CDC guidance.

  2. Verification: See current CDPH Updated Testing Guidance for acceptable methods of proof of negative COVID-19 test result.

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