INGLEWOOD, Calif. (CNS) -- Providing a glimpse of what life was like pre-pandemic, thousands of people flooded into SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Sunday for a charity concert aimed at boosting confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and raising funds for vaccination efforts worldwide.
But "VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World'', sponsored by relief organization Global Citizen, won't mark a complete return to normalcy. Attendance was being restricted to people who are "fully vaccinated,'' in other words, they must have received their final dose of COVID-19 vaccine no later than April 18. And mask-wearing was required inside the stadium, with the exception of the performers while they were on stage.
"We're working closely with L.A. County and the state of California to ensure a safe and enjoyable event,'' a Global Citizen spokeswoman told City News Service. "We're following all of the latest guidelines with regards to capacity at the venue and testing protocols to ensure the entire crew and audience are safe.''
Global Citizen "will verify vaccination status by checking vaccination cards both ahead of the event and on site. Other measures like temperature checks, on-site rapid testing for the working crews, contact tracing and limited capacity will be in place.''
It was not clear exactly how many people were in attendance. With Los Angeles County in the orange tier of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, attendance at outdoor events is generally limited to 33% of capacity. However, since organizers required all attendees to show proof of vaccination, the guidelines allowed to 67% of capacity.
SoFi stadium has a base capacity of roughly 70,000, although it is expandable to more than 100,000 for major events like the Super Bowl, which will be played at the stadium next year. Based on the 70,000 capacity, the concert could allow nearly 47,000 people.
According to Global Citizen, while current guidelines allow for fully vaccinated people to sit shoulder-to-shoulder at events, we will be operated on a reduced capacity that allows for gaps between groups.''
"SoFi Stadium has implemented robust cleaning protocols. Handwashing and sanitation stations will be available throughout the venue,'' according to the organization.
Tickets for the event were provided to fully vaccinated front-line health-care workers and essential workers by Global Citizen and its "partner organizations.''
Selena Gomez hosted the concert, which began at 6 p.m. and included performances by Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, J Balvin and H.E.R. The concert was taped for a May 8 worldwide fundraising broadcast, airing on ABC, CBS, Fox, YouTube and on iHeartMedia radio stations, and internationally on various other broadcast platforms. It was the largest concert in Southern California since the pandemic began.
"I definitely urge everyone to get the vaccine. Definitely worth it to be able to get back to normal again and do things like this," said concertgoer Sara Gordon.
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, served as co-chairs for the Global Citizen fundraising campaign aimed at providing COVID vaccines in poverty-ravaged countries. "They will deliver an important global message for vaccine equity during the event,'' organizers said.
President Joe Biden and his wife and Vice President Kamala Harris were also appear on the broadcast, "to increase public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines while reinforcing basic prevention measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing.''
French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic were also set to appear, along with Ben Affleck, Chrissy Teigen, David Letterman, Gayle King, Jimmy Kimmel, South African actress Nomzamo Mbatha, Olivia Munn and Sean Penn.
The broadcast encouraged donations, with the goal of ensuring vaccinations for 27 million health-care workers globally, including in the poorest countries of the world. Organizers will also advocate for "equitable distribution'' of vaccines.
On Tuesday, Global Citizen announced several major donations that had already come in. Cisco donated $5 million, an amount that is being matched by an unnamed Swiss foundation, while the Analog Devices Foundation donated $1 million, and the Coca-Cola Foundation donated $500,000. According to event organizers, the donations will fund the purchase of about 2.3 million vaccine doses.