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California lifts vaccine, tests rules at ‘indoor mega-events’

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California will lift a rule next month requiring attendees to show proof they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recently tested negative for the coronavirus as a condition of attending indoor events of a significant size such as concerts, conventions and sports competitions, called health officials.

That requirement, which will instead transition to a strong recommendation on April 1, applied to all indoor events with more than 1,000 people — which the state calls “indoor mega-events.”

Operators are still urged to screen guests as “indoor mega-events continue to involve multiple factors that increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” according to the updated guidance announced Friday from the California Department of Health. But the postponement recognizes the strides California has made in turning the tide of the Omicron wave.

“These recommendations will continue to be updated as CDPH continually assesses conditions,” officials wrote. “California must be vigilant to maintain situational awareness through surveillance and prepared to suspend or reintroduce higher levels of mitigation recommendations or requirements.”

Friday’s announcement continues a momentous few weeks during which California has abandoned virtually all mandatory measures imposed in hopes of stemming the transmission of the coronavirus.

California lifted its universal mask mandate for indoor public spaces about a month ago. Starting this week, students and teachers have had the opportunity to remove their masks in class. At Los Angeles Unified, where masks were still worn, officials announced Friday the practice would become optional on Wednesday.

While still strongly recommended indoors in public, masking is now mandatory in only a handful of locations across the state: health care facilities, nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons, prisons, and emergency shelters. A federal order The mask requirement on public transport, including planes and buses, will also remain in place until at least April 18.

The state regulations specify a kind of benchmark that the individual districts must meet. However, there is nothing to prevent local health authorities from imposing stricter rules if they deem it warranted – so it is possible that some will retain vaccine/test verification.

But that is likely to be unlikely. Even places like the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County have greatly relaxed their once sweeping masking and vaccine screening requirements as pandemic conditions have improved.

Asked for comment Friday, the LA County Department of Health said it was still reviewing the state’s changes.

For the past week, California has averaged just over 3,400 new coronavirus cases per day — 41% fewer than two weeks ago and just a fraction of the record infection numbers reported during the worst days of the Omicron surge, according to data compiled by The Times.

Once overcrowded hospitals have also received much-needed relief in recent weeks.

As of Thursday, there were 2,057 coronavirus-positive patients hospitalized nationwide. That’s the lowest level since July and less than a seventh of the Omicron-era peak.

But while the trajectory of the pandemic is promising, officials say they still strongly recommend some precautionary measures like masking or vaccination screening in certain settings to offer residents an extra layer of protection.

“We know our progress is being helped by the protective measures taken by so many of our residents, businesses, schools, healthcare providers and others before, during and after our climb,” said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, am Thursday to reporters. “And while this isn’t forever, we encourage focusing on sensible security measures for a while longer until there are fewer viruses in circulation.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-18/california-moves-to-lift-vaccine-test-rules-at-indoor-mega-events California lifts vaccine, tests rules at ‘indoor mega-events’

Dais Johnston

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