Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti may block large events and gatherings in the city until next year.
Garcetti broached the possibility on Monday at a briefing with senior staff and department heads across the state government. Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Trevor Richmond summarized Garcetti’s comments in an email reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
“Large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events may not be approved in the city for at least 1 year,” the email said.
Alex Comisar, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, confirmed Garcetti’s comments, saying, “the mayor was generally referencing studies of current and historical data and best practices for safely reopening our economy.”
The mayor appeared on CNN on Wednesday and reinforced his proposal without giving a definite timeline when he may begin approving gatherings such as concerts and professional sporting events.
“It’s difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon, so I think we should be prepared for that this year,” Garcetti said.
“I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly,” the mayor continued. “But until there’s either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention, or herd immunity, the science is the science. And public health officials have made very clear we have miles and miles to walk before we can be back in those environments.”
President Trump is pushing for governors and local officials to begin lifting stay-at-home orders and opening up parts of the economy next month. The president announced a new task force on April 4 dedicated to smoothing the transition to more economic normalcy, guiding governors on lifting regulations, and communicating with trading partners. White House guidelines on social distancing are set to expire on May 1.
Health experts have said that easing social distancing regulations should only be done after the government has put in place an aggressive system of coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and quarantining to slow the spread of the disease as people begin to interact more. Garcetti has included the experts’ recommendation in his targets for reopening businesses in LA. Other targets include sufficient hospital capacity and expanded surveillance of the spread of the virus.
About 22 million Americans have been furloughed or lost their jobs within the past month because of the coronavirus and state mandates barring all but “essential” businesses from operating. The number does not include potentially many more people who have not yet been approved for unemployment because state governments have been swamped with applications.
“This crisis combines the scale of a national economic downturn with the pace of a natural disaster,” Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao said after the latest unemployment report was released on Thursday. “And that’s really unprecedented in American economic history.”
Following Trump’s lead, state governors are also planning for an eventual reopening of the economy and creating blocs to coordinate between states. Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have created one bloc in the Northeast, while California, Oregon, and Washington are forming one on the West Coast.