L.A. County ends most COVID safety protocols for concerts

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After more than a year of vaccine card checks, rapid antigen testing and ever-evolving mask rules, L.A. County Department of Public Health has done away with most of its restrictions around COVID-19 for music clubs and venues.

“The County of Los Angeles continues to experience consistent declines in COVID-19 cases, test positivity rates, and related hospitalizations,” the order said Thursday. “The consistency in the decline of these important metrics in the County and across the State allow for a significant revision of required community-level infection control strategies.”

That means for L.A. County, “Pre-entry vaccination or recent negative test verification for attendees is recommended, but not required” for gatherings at outdoor festivals, bars and nightclubs.

In L.A. County, which covers everything between Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties, cases are down more than 60% over the last two weeks.

Here’s what may be different about going to concerts in L.A. County and what to expect when you arrive at a show.

A singer in sunglasses performing onstage.

Justin Bieber performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Oct. 2, 2021, in Las Vegas.

(Gabe Ginsberg / Getty Images for RMG)

What’s changed with masks?
As of March 4, the L.A. County Department of Public Health will no longer require most indoor and outdoor events to mandate masks, regardless of vaccination status.

“The time is absolutely right, and things are getting looser,” said Kobi Danan of Hollywood’s Sound nightclub. “You can feel it in the energy around you. The people inside the club feel more comfortable being around other people.”

L.A. County says that masks like N95 and KN95 are still “strongly recommended” indoors, and individual “venue operators and hosts may choose to require masking, regardless of vaccination status, by patrons, visitors, attendees, and workers.”

“We’re aligned with the county on masks, which is that they’re recommended but not required,” said Mitch Edelson, who runs Mid-City’s Catch One and Silver Lake’s Los Globos. “We’re still requiring proof of vaccination.”

The touring artists themselves can also mandate proof of vaccine. If you want to see blues legend Buddy Guy play at Agoura Hills’ Canyon on March 10, you’ll need to show your vaccination card or a recent negative test at entry. But a week later, at the same venue, you can see the tribute act Hollywood U2 without flashing any proof of vaccination.

To celebrate the great unmasking, I scored tickets for Nick Cave at the Shrine on Wednesday and Lily Meola at the Troubadour on Saturday. I can leave my vaccine card at home, right?
Not so fast. In the cities of West Hollywood (the Troubadour) or L.A. (the smaller, central part of L.A. County, where the Shrine is located), you won’t have to wear a mask indoors, but only if you’re fully vaccinated.

So the Shrine still requires a vaccine card or negative test for entry, while the Troubadour needs to see proof of vaccination. But yes, you can watch the shows unmasked.

What about April’s Charli XCX show at the Greek?
No mask requirement, but you’ll still need a vaccine card or negative test at the door — that’s the city of L.A.’s rules for outdoor venues over 5,000 capacity.

OK, how about Justin Bieber at the Crypto.com Arena this week?
Proof of vaccine or a negative test is still required for indoor events of more than 1,000 people; that’s a state of California rule. Masks, however, are just “strongly encouraged.”

This is confusing. Are vaccines or masks mandatory for shows in L.A. or not?
The short version: On Friday, L.A. County did away with most of its mask and vaccine requirements. The city of L.A. has mostly done away with mask rules for concerts but still requires vaccines or tests for indoor concerts and for bigger outdoor ones. And artists and promoters can override the newly relaxed county rules.

It’s still an evolving situation, so respect your fellow concertgoers. And tip your bartenders generously.

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