REDONDO BEACH, Calif. — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Tuesday new rules for “outdoor mega events” — festivals, sporting events, concerts and outdoor races — requiring all in attendance to wear masks at all times.

For Allen Sanford, the founder and promoter behind the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, it’s not an unwelcome policy change. Still, it’s another example of the challenges of running a major event during yet another wave of the pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • The BeachLife Festival, planned for Sept. 10-13 in Redondo Beach, has released COVID safety plans as the delta variant spreads in LA County

  • The festival will require attendees and workers to either be fully vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID test and will require masks in adherence with LA County's latest guidelines

  • COVID spread has been slightly higher than County averages within communities around the festival grounds in recent weeks

  • Organizers are cautiously optimistic, believing that "if everyone does what they need to do, then we can make this happen"

“It’s a true example of putting together the plane in flight,” Sanford said. “Every day we’re learning more, the goal posts are changing, and all we can do is comply with the latest health order and try to make this as safe an event as we can.”

Last week, BeachLife posted a list of its planned health and safety protocols for the event. Entry requirements will include ensuring all attendees and staff either have proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours before attending the festival.

The festival will also include cashless transactions, print-at-home tickets, more video screen placement for acts and more than five dozen hand washing and sanitizing stations. The planned mask recommendations, as listed by the festival, have been superseded by the county’s latest order.

The second iteration of the BeachLife Festival is planned for Sept. 10, 11 and 12, promising dozens of national and local acts, headlined by brothers Ziggy and Stephen Marley, Steve Miller Band, Counting Crows and Ben Harper.

But organizing the festival has gotten more complicated among this latest wave of COVID-19. On Aug. 16, LA County Public Health reported 2,426 new confirmed COVID cases; according to DPH data, there were an average of 2,971 new cases per day from Aug. 9 to Aug. 15.

Within the South Bay communities that make up the target market for BeachLife, COVID trends have been climbing. Within the last week, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, El Segundo, Inglewood and Hawthorne all had instances of higher daily new cases than the county average; and the three Beach Cities have seen new COVID cases increasing week-by-week from the July 4 weekend onward, as COVID’s delta variant has spread. Rates have fallen slightly within the past few days, however.

“The delta resurgence is concerning and it’s primarily impacting people who aren’t vaccinated,” said Beach Cities Health District CEO Tom Bakaly. “I think this all feels familiar and scary to us from a year ago…we’re still encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

BCHD was named early on in the festival’s 2021 planning process as BeachLife’s partner in laying out COVID protocols. As such, its staff has primarily held an advisory role, giving festival organizers and vendors guidance for how to safely operate — essentially, the organization has worked as an interpreter to ensure things run safely.

“It’s a lot of information to go through, but I think we’ve been on top of it the whole time,” said BCHD Blue Zones Director Lauren Nakano. “The work that our staff has been able to do to track all this information and consolidate it into something that’s more digestible has been a role we’ve been happy to serve.”

At this point, all organizers can do is continue to prepare and wait for any new instructions that come from LA County. Sanford doesn’t yet expect to impose any further restrictions on admittance — the festival grounds, inside of Redondo Beach’s King Harbor, will be held to a capacity of 9,000 people; that’s half of what Sanford said is the “technical capacity” of what the venue allows.

That, Sanford expects, should be similar to what the festival carried in May 2019, during its inaugural edition.

Though his tone is wary, and he acknowledges he’s not yet fully considered what might happen should the festival be ordered to cancel, Sanford remains cautiously optimistic.

“I’m still feeling good about it; we still need it as a community,” Sanford said. “The tide is not going in the right direction, but we still feel we can pull off a safe festival. If everyone does what they need to do, then we can make this happen.”