County to Begin Reviewing Applications for Outdoor Live Performances

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Health Officer Teresa Frankovich
  • Health Officer Teresa Frankovich
The state of California has released limited guidance that could allow live performances to resume in a limited capacity outdoors on the North Coast in the near future.

The interim rules — which the state is expected to followed up with more thorough guidance soon — allow two types of live performances in counties in the “minimal” risk tier, like Humboldt. The first essentially just dovetails with the social gathering guidelines the state released earlier this month, which allow no more than three households to gather for physically distanced or masked outdoor get-togethers. The state has now clarified that if those groups want to play music, do something theatrical or otherwise perform together or for each other, that’s allowed, so long as no more than three households are involved.


But the guidance also allows live outdoor performances for audiences of up to 100 people, if the specific event is approved by the local health officer.

“During approved performances, all audience members and others not performing must wear masks, and audience members from different households must be spaced at least 6 feet apart when seated or otherwise viewing the performance,” the state’s interim guidance says. “Performers who are not wearing face coverings must be at least 6 feet apart from each other.”

Humboldt has remained in the minimal risk tier — the lowest of four — and been allowed to reopen bars and increase indoor capacity for other businesses as a result. But state health officials were slow to permit live performances of any type because COVID-19 transmits through aerosols — or the tiny droplets of saliva liquid emitted when people breathe and talk, which can hang in the air for 20 minutes or more in indoor spaces — and performances are aimed at getting groups people to congregate and linger in a space, often forcing them to speak loudly over background noise, all of which markedly increases the risk of virus spread.

Humboldt County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said during a media availability yesterday that applications for live, outdoor performances in front of audiences of up to 100 people can be submitted to the Joint Information Center now. Indoor performances of all types — from stand-up comedy and karaoke to live music and theater — remain prohibited in all venues.

“So if you want to have an outdoor concert with up to 100 people in a yellow tier, there are guidelines about what that has to look like in terms of the performers and masking and distancing, how attendance is handled, all of those things,” she said. “So right now, we’ll be looking at those individually, if those events are being planned, and approving them on a case-by-case basis. As more robust guidance comes forward, then we’ll be able to perhaps streamline that a little bit more and do that as we’ve done other approvals.”

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