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Get Ready for Indoor Concerts, Theater, Outdoor Bars and More as LA Reopens This Spring

The state plans to fully reopen its economy by June 15.

For the latest information regarding California and LA County's COVID restrictions and plans for reopening, please visit covid19.ca.gov.

In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, April 6, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state plans to reopen its economy on June 15. In a press release statement, Governor Newsom credited the state reaching a recent milestone of surpassing 20 million vaccine doses administered, including 4 million administered in areas that were most hard hit by the pandemic. 

“We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic,” Newsom said, emphasizing that, “We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here–wearing masks and getting vaccinated–but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”

In order for California to reopen its economy on June 15, it must meet the criteria of having a vaccine supply sufficient for Californians ages 16 and older who wish to be inoculated, and maintain low and stable hospital rates. This reopening phase will apply to the entire state, though hospitalization rates, vaccine access and efficacy will continue to be monitored, and contact tracing and testing will also continue, with the option to revise the June 15 date if needed. If all goes according to plan, everyday activities and businesses can resume with common-sense measures to reduce transmission, including mandated masking and encouraging all Californians to get vaccinated. When the state’s economy fully reopens, California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy will come to an end. 

This news comes on the heels of LA County’s recent advancement into the orange tier of California’s four-tiered Blueprint for a Safer Economy plan for reopening. This represents the most progress that the county has made in the yearlong COVID pandemic, though Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer was quick to caution residents, advising them to continue employing the practices that help keep them and others safe, including social distancing, washing hands frequently, wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds, and getting vaccinated as soon as eligible.

"Our numbers have improved dramatically, but we cannot let up,” Ferrer said in a press release statement. “While we are making good progress with vaccination efforts, we have about a dozen more weeks before we can expect to reach 80% vaccine coverage for people 16 and older… Following these safety measures is the only way we can avoid taking a step back on our recovery journey."

Perhaps most notably, the newest order allows for the reopening of outdoor service for bars that do not provide meals, though visits are limited to 90 minutes and live entertainment and television viewing are not permitted. Hours of operation are limited to between 11:30 am and 10 pm.

Other changes include the allowance for breweries, wineries, and distilleries that do not serve meals to open for indoor service, with reservations required and limited to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. No live entertainment or television viewing is permitted indoors. 

Restaurants can now expand indoor dining to 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. On the entertainment side of things, movie theaters can increase capacity to 50% or 200 people, whichever is less; family entertainment centers can open indoors at 25% capacity for distanced activities like bowling and escape rooms, although masks are still required; and museums, zoos, and aquariums may also open indoors at 50% capacity. In addition, amusement parks, outdoor live events, and outdoor professional sporting events are permitted with safety measures, including occupancy limits, distancing, masking, and eating and drinking requirements.

And just ahead of what would be festival season, the state of California announced that indoor concerts, theaters, and other private gatherings can resume as of April 15. The number of attendees will depend on the type of gathering as well as which tier the county in question is currently occupying. Since LA County is currently in the orange tier that indicates moderate spread of the virus, the following restrictions apply to these types of gatherings: 

  • For social, informal gatherings without a defined guest list and no requirement of COVID testing or vaccination: outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people maximum and indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged, though they are allowed with modifications.
  • For private events such as meetings, receptions, and conferences: a defined guest list is required and/or tickets must be purchased in advance, a seating chart/assigned seating is required, and requiring testing or vaccinations can increase capacity. For example, an outdoor gathering of this type would normally be limited to 100 people, but may increase to 300 if all guests are tested or show proof of vaccination. COVID testing or proof of vaccination is also required for an indoor gathering of this type, in which case the capacity is a maximum of 150 people.
  • For live events and performances where guests are seated indoors: only in-state visitors are permitted to attend, a weekly testing program for workers must be in place, all tickets must be purchased in advance and delivered digitally, and eating/drinking is only allowed in pre-designated areas, not in seats. Venues that hold up to 1,500 guests are allowed a maximum of 15% capacity or 200 people, or 35% capacity if all guests are tested or show proof of vaccination.  

In response to this news, the Greek Theatre announced plans to reopen on May 30, with a performance from Madness with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Hollywood Bowl also announced their reopening plan and will welcome a limited audience of approximately 4,000 when concerts resume in May, though they anticipate increasing their capacity later in the summer. They'll kick off their reopening with four free concerts for healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers to thank them for all they've done to keep LA safe during the pandemic. Three of these free concerts will be sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, and will include performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra on May 15 and 22, and local artists Thundercat and Flying Lotus on June 12. The artists for the final free concert on June 26 have yet to be announced. Beginning in July, the iconic performance venue will roll out 14 weeks of programming, with lineups, dates, and ticketing details announced on May 11.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association also confirmed that its other local outdoor venue, the 1,200-seat John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, will reopen in late July for a 15-week season. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown is expected to announce their reopening in June. East of Los Angeles, the Same Same But Different festival plans to host its next iteration at Perris Beach in Lake Perris State Park, this fall from September 9 to September 12. Stay tuned as venues continue to share their plans for reopening and add new concert dates to their calendars. 

After more than a year of adhering to fluctuating restrictions and with summer well on its way, many Angelenos are eager to resume their social lives in whatever fashion they’re able. Just remember to follow the advice of public health experts and stick to the practices that have helped reduce our numbers and kept us safe as we as all look forward to the day that this pandemic is finally in our rearview mirror.

For additional information on California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and the various restrictions for activities and businesses under each tier, click here.

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Danielle Dorsey is the Los Angeles Editor at Thrillist.
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