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San Francisco, Washington State Ban Large Gatherings Over Coronavirus Concerns

Washington state, San Francisco and Santa Clara County have announced bans on large gatherings in order to curve the spread of coronavirus. 

Government officials in Washington state and Northern California are placing restrictions on large-scale events over concerns of the spreading coronavirus.

In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee issued an emergency declaration on Wednesday (March 11) banning large gatherings across three counties — Snohomish, Pierce and King, where Seattle is located — shutting down events of 250 people or more. The ban includes community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers and similar activities.

“We recognize this new limitation will impact thousands of people, their plans, and their investments in these events,” Inslee said in a post on Medium. “However, this is one of the most prudent choices we can make to keep people safe in this rapidly evolving health crisis. We want to do all we can to protect Washingtonians.”


The virus has hit King County and specifically the Seattle area the hardest with 24 deaths and confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning.

“This is an unprecedented public health situation and we can’t wait until we’re in the middle of it to slow it down,” Inslee added. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.”

These three Washington counties contain some of the largest event spaces in the state including Pierce County’s Tacoma Dome, which will lose five events for the month of March, including shows by NGHTMRE and Brantley Gilbert. Popular Seattle including the historic Showbox, Showbox SoDo, Neumos, Columbia City Theater and Neptune Theatre will also be impacted.

The Governor has not revealed if there is an end date for the ban, but Tacoma Dome’s site continues to advertise shows in April, including Billie Eilish, Celine Dion and Rage Against the Machine.


In San Francisco, on Wednesday Mayor London Breed announced a ban on social gatherings of 1,000 people or more.

“We know that this Order is disruptive, but it is an important step to support public health,” she said in a statement. “We’re following the recommendations of public health officials to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This order mirrors actions being taken by other local governments and is informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. We know cancelling these events is a challenge for everyone and we’ve been talking with venues and event organizers about the need to protect public health. Today I spoke with the Warriors to discuss the steps we’re taking to cancel large events and they are in support of our efforts.”

San Francisco’s large gatherings ban is currently set for two weeks and will impact the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and their home venue, Chase Center. The Warriors will play the Brooklyn Nets at Chase Center Wednesday evening without an audience. The Chase Center will also postpone several concerts, including Tame Impala on March 13, Post Malone on March 19 and Bell Biv Devoe & Friends on March 21.

The ban will also impact San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, including shows by NGHTMRE and San Holo, and the Fillmore. The Fillmore has not yet confirmed shows cancellations, which would likely include concerts by The Lone Bellow, Dan Deacon, SAINt JHN and Drive-By Truckers, and did not respond to Billboard‘s request for comment at time of publishing.


Washington and San Francisco’s large events bans follow action by Santa Clara County in Northern California on Monday also prohibiting events of 1,000 people or more. The Santa Clara Health Department announced the legal order on Monday and it went into effect Wednesday. The order does not include schools, airports or shopping malls, but it will impact San Jose’s SAP Center, which has postponed seminars by Tony Robbins and games from its home team, NHL’s San Jose Sharks.

“No events are scheduled at SAP Center until Tues., March 17,” SAP Center said in a statement. “We will be reviewing each scheduled event due to take place for the rest of the month and provide an update in the coming days. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our fans, guests and partners during this unprecedented time.”

The arena has also postponed its eight-night run of Cirque du Soleil AXEL set to begin March 24, but has yet to official postpone or cancel a March 20 Marc Anthony show.

Levi’s Stadium also falls within the ban’s jurisdiction, but the 75,000-capacity venue does not have events planned until the Monster Jam on April 4, followed by two nights from BTS on April 25 and 26.