With virus rates low, Californians eager to return to events | Entertainment

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — For the past year, Emily Redenbach has had to watch her beloved Los Angeles Kings hockey team play on television, without the camaraderie of fellow season ticket holders who have become her friends.

“It’s not the same, but that’s the closest I could get to having hockey,” said Redenbach, 35.

But starting April 15, Redenbach and other loyal sports fans may be able to return to a large arena to cheer on their team after California lifts its ban on live indoor events. The Kings, as well as the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco and the Los Angeles Lakers, have announced that they are working withhealth officials to welcome back fans.

The return of live events and performances and larger indoor private gatherings indoors comes as health officials warn of the possibility of another surge, but it offers a glimmer of normalcy for residents after more than a year of fluctuating restrictions. More than 58,000 people in California have died from the virus, and several states are seeing surges in cases driven by new virus variants.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration believes it is safe to reopen now given the low case rates and increasing pace of vaccinations. California workers have administered nearly 20 million doses as of Monday.

The guidelines adopted by California’s public health department allow more paying audience members indoors if they show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. State officials will also allow vaccinated-only sections where people do not have to maintain social distancing but must wear masks.

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