As Associated Luxury Hotels International’s President and CEO Michael Dominguez said at Global Meetings Industry Day last week, “As soon as California says they’re going, we’re all going.” And now the U.S. state with the biggest population—at 39.37 million residents—will open to meetings of 5,000 starting in June, raising hopes that other states will soon follow.
The caveat, said California Governor Gavin Newsom and public health officials, is that COVID-19 vaccinations must remain widely available and hospitalizations must continue to remain stable.
“With the expectation of an abundance of doses coming in from the federal government through the end of this month and into May, we can confidently say by June 15 that we can start to open up as business as usual, subject to ongoing mask-wearing and ongoing vigilance,” Newsom said during a press conference last week.
Unless testing or vaccination status is verified for all attendees, conventions will be capped at 5,000 people until Oct. 1, and international convention attendees will be allowed only if fully vaccinated, according to an NPR report. Events at stadiums and other large venues will be permitted, but multi-day fairs and music festivals have not been given the green light.
It will still take a while for large events to return in California, say some in the industry, in part because of the vaccine mandate. “We anticipate that shows will be smaller starting off and getting back up to speed hopefully next year,” Ellen Schwartz, general manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center, told the Los Angeles Times. “As we get into the last quarter of this calendar year and start the new year, we’re hopeful that the business will come back to closer to where it was before the pandemic.”
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