State approves limited-capacity football; what does it mean for concerts?

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift performs on the Reputation Stadium Tour at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on May 11, 2018. Steve Carlson/STAFF.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced new rules for sporting event attendance; primarily, allowing 20-percent-attendance at outdoor stadiums in counties that reach the orange tier in the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan. That milestone is reached when new cases do not exceed four per day for every 100,000 residents.

The approval is contingent on counties signing off on the new rules—and Santa Clara County quickly shot down that approval.

“We want to make it clear that super-spreader events will not be allowed in the County of Santa Clara,” said Dr. Jeff Smith, county executive, at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “No question, this is dangerous. This is the worst thing to be doing … This county will not change its risk mitigation order.”

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department quickly nixed the state’s professional sports announcement soon after Newsom made his announcement. It also said it would not allow theme parks int he county to reopen anytime soon, as the state allowed.

“We must all continue to prioritize reducing the spread of COVID-19, creating conditions that will allow our businesses, schools, and other community organizations to operate safely, the public health department announced. “As we see COVID-19 rates rising in states across the U.S., and as we enter the winter months when risk will increase, we cannot take chances with the health and well being of our community and forfeit the many sacrifices that have been made to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

In theory the state’s approval allows the San Francisco 49ers, who play at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara County, as well as the San Jose Earthquakes, who play at Earthquakes Stadium in San Jose to allow some fans. San Francisco County is in the state’s yellow tier, but the San Francisco Giants’ season has concluded. The state’s approval applies only to professional sporting venues, so Cal and Stanford, for example have not been approved to admit fans to their games, scheduled to begin in November.

It was not immediately clear from the announcements whether the new rules impact the future of other events at the approved facilities—such as concerts. With a capacity of 68,500, the 20 percent restriction would mean the 49ers can sell 13,700 tickets. It could be financially helpful to some acts. RIFF has reached out the California Department of Health and Human Services and the governor’s office for clarification.

Before Santa Clara County’s quick rejection, the 49ers celebrated Newsom’s announcement on social media. “Our organization will continue to collaborate with local public health officials to implement a plan that protects the health and wellness of all San Francisco 49ers and Levi’s Stadium employees, patrons and our community,” the team tweeted.

According to the new rules, attendees must live within 120 miles of an outdoor stadium to be able to attend a sporting event there. Smith said that allowing people from nearby counties, where the spread is greater, is a huge risk.

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