Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said “it would be very difficult to see” the city reopening large gatherings, such as concerts and sporting events, until 2021.
During an appearance on CNN, the mayor cautioned that from what he has heard from public health officials, bans on such gatherings will likely remain through the end of the year in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“It’s difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands any time soon, so I think we should be prepared for that this year,” he said, also citing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who recently gave a similar warning to New Yorkers.
“I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly but until there’s either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention or herd immunity, the science is the science and public health officials have been very clear: we’ve got many many miles to walk before we’re going to be back in those environments,” Garcetti said.
He added that he hopes the public will be able to watch sports on TV, filmed without audiences, and listen to concerts, as many have already been doing.
“It is so important for us, even as we’re physically distanced, to have that spiritual and social connection,” he said.
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has spread rapidly throughout the world and prompted shutdowns of many major industries, including professional sports, festivals and concerts. As of Thursday morning, more than 2 million people worldwide had contracted the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.
Garcetti said the main reason large gatherings will likely remain banned is the virus’ ability to continue spreading throughout his city in the absence of a vaccine.
“Here in Los Angeles we might only have 5, 10% of people who have come down with COVID-19 by the fall,” he explained. “That means that 95% of us, 90% of us still could get it and it still could spread rapidly. So nothing I’ve heard would indicate that we’ll be in those large, thousands of people gatherings anytime soon and probably not for the rest of this year.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.