San Diego's largest conventions will face additional restrictions

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Posted at 4:38 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 19:55:47-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The governor's announcement this week paving the way for conventions to return to San Diego came with an extra requirement for those expecting more than 5,000 attendees: proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

On Tuesday, Gov. Newsom announced a June 15 target date for the full reopening of the economy, including meetings and conventions. That led to celebration among the region's hard-hit tourism industry.

"With conventions coming back in August and us to have meetings starting next week, it's a great step forward for the hotels," said Jeffrey Burg, general manager of the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, two blocks from the Convention Center.

Conventions have disappeared from San Diego amid the pandemic, leading to plummeting hotel occupancy on weekdays and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

The first events at the Convention Center are slated for August, as the venue is currently being used as a shelter for unaccompanied migrant children.

"Now that we are able to host meetings, our hoteliers will be able to start calling back some of their workers as business starts ramping up," said Julie Coker, CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority.

The state health department says the 5,000-plus attendance requirement for vaccines or negative tests refers to large-scale indoor events with uncontrolled mixing that includes eating and drinking.

The Convention Center has five that big on the books, including the American Kennel Club's annual Meet the Breeds event, which could draw 17,500 people in August. A club spokeswoman said Wednesday it intends to hold the event adhering to all state and local rules.

The American Psychological Association, expecting 12,000 in August, says it's evaluating the new rules and will work with the convention center on the best path forward.

A spokeswoman for the Convention Center said this is a new development and that they are waiting on more guidance from the state.