SAN DIEGO – Beginning Friday, California dropped its COVID-19 vaccine and proof of negative test requirement for large indoor events with both still strongly recommended even as case numbers fall.
State public health officials announced the move last month, ending a mandate that’s been in place since last fall. The shift applies to indoor “mega” events with crowds of 1,000 people or more and outdoor events with more than 10,000 attendees.
“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,” the California Department of Public Health said last month.
The state’s rules are applicable to San Diego County, which largely has followed California public health guidance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vaccine verification and negative testing are considered “strongly recommended” for indoor events and remain “recommended” for outdoor events. No capacity or physical distancing restrictions are left in place for “mega” events. For venues and event operators keeping the vaccine and/or testing requirement in place, the state recommends they follow guidance on acceptable documents — rather than self-attestation — and use mitigation measures, whenever possible.
Masks are recommended for unvaccinated people in indoor settings, but restrictions have gradually been lifted in recent months, including in K-12 schools, as COVID conditions improve.
Face coverings are still required in “high-risk settings,” such as public transit and in health care settings.
Most San Diego County school districts have ended or otherwise have announced plans to end mask requirements in the classroom after Gov. Gavin Newsom dropped the mandate in March. Newsom said the decision came as the state “continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science.”
To date, the county has recorded more than 750,000 COVID cases and 5,178 deaths since the pandemic began. Roughly 2.6 million San Diegans are considered fully vaccinated and nearly 94% of eligible residents have received at least one vaccine shot, the county reported.
This week, county public health officials made a push for COVID vaccinations, stating that nearly 970,000 San Diegans who are eligible for a vaccine booster have not received it.
In a statement, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said the vaccine is “the best defense we have to further slow the spread of the pandemic.”
“Although cases are comparatively low from the January peak, the pandemic is not over,” Wooten said. “Every San Diegan should get all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses so that we’re better protected against the virus and its likely variants.”
FOX 5’s Jacqueline Sarkissian contributed to this report.