The city also said it would align with Los Angeles State and County in removing the requirement that organizers of “mega” indoor events require vaccine verification or proof of negative vaccine results. COVID-19 tests before allowing people to enter.
This new order for indoor events will take effect April 1, freeing organizers of the city’s biggest event, the Acura Grand Prix, from having to set up a system to verify test results or the vaccine status for his Lifestyle Expo in the Long Beach Convention Center. The Grand Prix is scheduled to take place April 8-10.
The new order will also affect a host of sporting events and indoor concerts.
Health officials are still urging event organizers, bar patrons and event attendees to exercise caution and wear a mask in crowded situations and to get vaccinated, especially as a new variant of the COVID-19 virus is causing an increase in cases across Europe and other regions.
Long Beach noted in the new health order that case rates have dropped since winter, when the omicron variant caused record cases of the virus.
As of March 18, the city’s seven-day average case rate was 2.5 cases per 100,000 population, well below the 474 cases per 100,000 population reported on January 10.
Earlier this month, effective March 1, Long Beach and other agencies had already lifted masking and vaccination requirements at establishments that serve food.
However, “the risk of COVID-19 infection for those who are not or cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to remain high,” the city’s new health order said. “Outbreaks continue to have negative consequences for businesses and institutions.”
County health officials said Monday that the new BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19 is slowly starting to grow locally and will likely gain a foothold in the county soon.
During the week ending February 26, 6.4% of all COVID samples that were tested for the variants were found to be the result of BA.2, which is a more infectious offshoot of the omicron variant that fueled the recent winter spike in infections. That was up from 4.5% the previous week.
Health officials noted on Monday that while the percentage is still low, the same pattern was seen with the omicron and delta variants which both turned into major spreaders of the virus. They said BA.2 is currently responsible for 23% of sequenced cases nationwide, while accounting for 30% of infections in New York.
City News Service contributed to this report.