California Opens to Meetings of 5,000

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Downtown Los Angeles

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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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.