Deep down, you probably already had a feeling this might be the case, but Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday said that we’re unlikely to see large gatherings return to L.A. soon.
“I certainly would love to see some sports games and concerts later this year,” Garcetti said in his daily evening address. “Whether that means that those are athletes playing by themselves… or whether that can be potentially in person. But I think we’re a long way off from huge gatherings. We are not as long a way from medium-sized gatherings. And we’re still today not at a place of even small gatherings.”
While Garcetti noted that it’s still too early to commit to any sort of timeline—and specifically too soon to say how social distancing will affect summer holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July—a report in the L.A. Times earlier on Wednesday suggested that we’re unlikely to see large events return this year. The newspaper cited an email summary of an inter-department conference call, in which Garcetti said that “large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events may not be approved in the city for at least one year.” In addition, he’s paraphrased as saying essential and small businesses may be phased in over a 6 to 10 month period. In an appearance on CNN later on in the day, Garcetti stood by the timeline and said “it’s difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands any time soon.”
The mayor addressed the story again in his evening remarks, where he expressed his support of spectator-free sporting events but still seemed wary of large events. “I know it made some news, something that I said in response to a question from one of our general managers, where I said it was going to be difficult to imagine this year going back to the largest gatherings we have,” he said. “That became suddenly any concerts, any sporting events in any way. All I know is, while we don’t know the date when those things will return, I know that they will be sooner the more that we take these actions.”
Those actions he’s referring to are the existing “safer at home” measures as well as five pillars that the city will be using to make decisions about how we can get back to work, school and fun: widespread testing, real-time testing surveillance, an immediate response to new cases, hospital capacity and ongoing research and development. These come in addition to Governor Gavin Newsom’s similar six-point framework for transitioning California into a new normal.
Like many of us, Garcetti said he’d love for Angelenos to be able to return to school, date nights at restaurants and bars, and games at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center. But reaching that point requires a lot of advancement. “And getting back to some of those things will take longer than others, and we will always be guided by the public health professionals in the steps that we take,” he said. “Nobody was looking forward more to an L.A. NBA champion or World Series than me. But let’s be clear: Right now there are no small gatherings, and getting back to medium and large gatherings will take time.” He also added: “Things aren’t coming quickly and we can’t simply reopen things because our hearts say that we want to. I will always listen to the doctors. I will always listen to public health.”
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