COVID-19 cases and hospitalization are declining across the state. This is due in large part to the collective efforts of Californians to get vaccinated and wear masks. Vaccination continues to remain the ultimate exit strategy out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 vaccines remain effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While the percentage of Californians who have completed their primary series and received a booster dose continues to increase, we also have areas of the state where vaccine coverage is low, putting individuals and communities at greater risk for COVID-19.
On June 15, 2021, 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).
Large, indoor events, however, continue to have the potential to cause large, substantial, and severe outbreaks. 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) 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, remains an 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 response to the emergence of the more transmissible Omicron variant in late 2021:
- 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.
- 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.
- On December 31, 2021, the threshold for Indoor Mega Events was lowered to 500 attendees and for Outdoor Mega Events to 5,000 attendees. This was in response to the growing threat of the more-transmissible Omicron variant, especially during the winter season when large indoor events were more likely to occur.
- On February 16, 2022, the threshold for Indoor Mega Events was raised to 1,000 attendees and for Outdoor Mega Events to 10,000 attendees. This was in response to declining case rates and hospitalizations.
Effective April 1, 2022, the requirement for vaccine verification or proof of negative tests for attendees at Indoor Mega Events will be lifted and will move to a strong recommendation. This shift acknowledges that while case rates and hospitalizations are declining statewide from their peak during the Omicron surge, Indoor Mega Events continue to involve several factors that increase the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
These recommendations will continue to be updated as CDPH continues to assess conditions on an ongoing basis. California must be vigilant to maintain situational awareness through surveillance and be ready to pause or reinstate a higher level of protective mitigation recommendations or requirements.
Definitions of Mega Events
|Crowds greater than 1,000 (indoors) attendees|
Crowds greater than 10,000 (outdoors) attendees
|Vaccine Verification / Negative Testing||Strongly recommended for Indoor Mega Events|
Recommended for Outdoor Mega Events
|Capacity Limitations||No restrictions|
|Physical Distancing||No restrictions for attendees, customers, and guests|
|Masking||Follow current CDPH Guidance for Face Coverings. Refer to CDPH Get the Most Out of Masking for more information on getting the best fit and filtration for your mask|
|Travelers||Recommend following CDC recommendations for domestic and international travel.|
In workplaces, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.
Strong Recommendations for Mega Events:
Mega Events are characterized by large crowds greater than 1,000 indoor OR 10,000 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 completion of primary vaccination series* or pre-entry negative test** result is strongly recommended for all attendees.
- If implemented, venue and event operators are strongly 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.
- All businesses and venue operators should 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 are strongly recommended to wear masks and should follow CDPH Guidance for Face Coverings. Refer to CDPH Get the Most Out of Masking for more information on getting the best fit and filtration for masks.
- Information should be prominently placed on all communications, including the reservation and ticketing systems, to ensure guests are aware that the State strongly recommends that they complete their primary vaccination series or obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending the event.
- Venues should consider making masks (preferably respirators) 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) venue hosts and operators are recommended to follow the mitigation measures above, as well as the additional general public health recommendations.
Additional recommendations for sponsors of Mega Events:
- Encourage everyone to get vaccinated and boosted, when eligible.
- Encourage all attendees to consider better fit and filtration for masks [Respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) or surgical masks with good fit are recommended over cloth masks].
- 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.
* Completed Primary Series
- Definition: “Completed Primary Series” see current definition
and acceptable methods for providing proof of vaccination in the CDPH
Vaccine Record Guidelines & Standards.
** Pre-entry negative testing
- 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.
- Verification: See current CDPH Updated Testing Guidance and CDPH Over-the-Counter Testing Guidance for acceptable methods of proof of negative COVID-19 test result and information on Over-the-Counter tests. Note: If implemented, venue and event operators are strongly recommended to not use self-attestation as a mode of verification, even when using Over-the-Counter (or at home tests) for entry into Indoor Mega Events.
Any requirements continue to be recommended but not mandatory for places of worship meeting the definition of a mega event.
Originally Published on May 21, 2021