A year with no shows: Concert venues can reopen indoors this month


EL CAJON, Calif. — It’s been more than a year without music and live entertainment in venues across San Diego County.

On Friday, health officials announced a big change to coronavirus restrictions that impact live events across California. Gov. Gavin Newson says indoor gatherings, including receptions and live performances, can resume later this month. 

Venues like The Magnolia have been shut down with no concerts since March 2020. Health officials say the venues can reopen indoors with limitations starting April 15.

“Excitement, like everybody else,” Belly Up Entertainment President Chris Goldsmith said. “We’re excited to be making progress, back to being able to be open and this is an important first step.”

Venues will be allowed to welcome guests back at limited capacity. The state requires advance ticket purchases, physical distancing, designated eating and drinking areas and in-state guests only.

Goldsmith said there are still many details they have to iron out before concerts and performances can resume.

“What it will be like to try and regulate vaccine cards and COVID tests, and whether or not that’s something that we want to even do,” Goldsmith said.

San Diego County is in the red tier on the state’s reopening system. Under the new guidelines, outdoor gatherings such as receptions or conferences can include 50 people, or up to 200 with vaccination and testing proof. Indoor gatherings can include up to 100 people with proof of vaccination and tests.

“People are craving live music,” musician Daniel Powell said. “They’re craving dancing. They’re craving social interaction so I think it’s fantastic. Should there be a COVID test or vaccination test before you can go enjoy live music and go dancing? I don’t think so.”

For venues with a capacity of up to 1,500 people in the red tier, capacity is limited to 10% or 100 people, and capacity increases to 25% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination. Venues with capacity of 1,501 or higher in the red tier, have capacity limited to 20% with testing or vaccination proof required for all guests.

“I think it’s getting better and better in San Diego, and if they want us to wear a mask, I think all the patrons will,” concert fan Stefanie Spagano said. “I think everyone’s just dying to see human beings and live music again, and getting life back to normal. So whatever the stipulations are, we’ll be there.”

Goldsmith said it will take time for Belly Up to remount their operations. He said they want to reopen when they know they can stay open consistently.


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