Can You Imagine a Year Without Concerts, Sporting Events or Film Festivals? California Might Have to

Lead Photo: Festivalgoers watch Zedd perform at Coachella Stage during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 21, 2019 in Indio, California. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Festivalgoers watch Zedd perform at Coachella Stage during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 21, 2019 in Indio, California. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Read more

On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom outlined a plan to reopen California but warned it would be guided by “science and public health, not politics.”

“There is no light switch here, it’s more like a dimmer,” Newsom said. “I know you want the timeline, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves and dream of regretting. Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early, as much as we want to.”

The news comes in the wake of President Trump’s mention that his “authority is total” when addressing how he would convince governors to reopen state economies. Despite being the world’s fifth-largest economy, California will likely retain some of the strict safety measures in order to attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.

During such an uncertain time, Newsom’s cautious response means that Californians can expect certain safety measures to continue even after the stay-at-home order is lifted on May 15. That includes the continuation of mandatory masks, the disinfection of public spaces and the potential use of antibacterial wipes in elevators.

Perhaps most notable is the news that even though residents won’t always be confined to their homes, large gatherings are still not going to take place anytime soon. That means Coachella isn’t the only mass gathering that won’t be happening this year in the Golden State. Newsom—who was the first governor to issue a stay-at-home order—said mass gatherings will most likely remain on hold throughout the summer months, but there’s no definitive timeline.

California draws in thousands of tourists throughout the year with staple cultural events. Needless to say, the decision will affect the economy as a whole. Yet the risk of spreading the coronavirus remains too high.

“The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine,” Newsom said. “So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers, all together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, believes that developing a coronavirus vaccine will take between 12 and 18 months. Meanwhile, an estimated 2.3 million Californians filed for unemployment benefits between March 12 and April 7, CNN reports. That number is expected to rise and chip away at the $21.5 billion surpluses in the state’s budget from before the virus hit.

Just last month, Coachella and many other events opted to reschedule for Summer or Fall in hopes that the situation will be under control by then. Stagecoach Country Music Festival, for example, was postponed ’til October. Online gaming conference VidCon set for June 17-20 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Orange County has been canceled entirely. The 25th annual Los Angeles Festival of Books, originally set for April 18-19 at USC, has been rescheduled to October 3-4. The annual Long Beach Grand Prix, originally scheduled for April 17-19, is canceled and Disneyland remains closed until further notice. “Hamilton” returned to LA for the second time on March 12. By March 19 Newsom had issued a stay-at-home order. Sporting events have also taken a hit. The state’s three football teams say they’ll likely not be able to host an event until November (if that). The MLB, NBA and the NHL have given no indication on when they plan to restart or launch their seasons. These are merely a few examples of major events that will likely be faced with the decision of whether to reschedule or cancel once more.

“We are not out of the woods yet, we are not spiking the ball,” Newsom said. “But we also extend a recognition in that light that this can’t be a permanent state, and I want you to know, it’s not—it will not be a permanent state.”