State vaccine, testing requirements to guide future ‘mega’ events

an aerial photo of an empty Memorial Stadium
Josh Kahen/Senior Staff
State vaccination and COVID-19 requirements are expected to apply to mega events, including outdoor events with more than 10,000 attendees. This includes intercollegiate athletic events at locations such as Memorial Stadium.

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California’s Beyond the Blueprint framework will shape how people return to “mega” events in the state with vaccination and testing requirements effective June 15.

Operators of outdoor mega events with more than 10,000 attendees are recommended to verify either full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours, according to Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary. Verification at indoor events with a lower threshold of 5,000 attendees will be required, not recommended.

“All three authorized COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” an email from the California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, reads. “They are the best way for us to end this pandemic and reopen the economy.”

Mega events are considered higher risk for COVID-19 transmission because of longer and more frequent close contact between attendees, difficult contact tracing setups and potential attendees from other states and countries. The state framework also encourages event sponsors to provide clear communication and mandates adherence to current CDPH masking requirements.

Some event venues in the Bay Area, such as the Chase Center, have already been requiring either verification of vaccination or a negative test result. Others, such as Oracle Park, are using a hybrid approach with both vaccinated and socially distanced sections.

The state is working to provide a system for replacing vaccination cards and updating information for individuals, according to Ghaly. He added that while California is not requiring a vaccine passport, some businesses may decide to use different information technology tools and applications to verify vaccination.

“We do plan at some point soon to provide some guidance or guidelines on how to implement those in a thoughtful, responsible way,” Ghaly said during a press conference.

The city of Berkeley does not plan to have any additional restrictions on top of the state’s Beyond the Blueprint framework, according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko. Alameda County will also align with the state’s framework, noted Neetu Balram, Alameda County Public Health Department spokesperson.

Balram noted that COVID-19 continues to be a threat and encouraged unvaccinated individuals to make an appointment. Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said UC Berkeley officials are still in the process of reviewing new state information and have not yet updated the official guidance.

Gilmore added that only intercollegiate athletic events in the fall would be likely to reach “mega” event sizes and noted that campus is also watching to see if city and UC guidelines will be stricter than the state mandate.

“The University will continue to monitor and follow all public health requirements from the state, city, university and campus,” Gilmore said in an email. “It is likely that the campus will develop advice for event holders to help attendees and event staff transition back to in-person activities.”

Contact Vani Suresh at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @vanisuresh_.