Rose Bowl Flea Market Reopening as L.A. COVID-19 Cases Dwindle

The Rose Bowl Flea Market is set to return to Los Angeles this Sunday after more than a year.

The operator of the 50-year-old outdoor market, RGC Shows, owned by R.G. Canning, on Monday sent a surprise email saying the flea was reopening with the usual number of vendors and at its iconic location of the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena.

Certain pandemic protocols will be in place, including mandatory mask wearing by vendors and patrons of the market, as well as social distancing of six feet. Although the email was brief, RGC made clear, “We will be monitoring and enforcing these rules for the safety of our vendors, buyers and staff.”

The market has been operating monthly since the 1970s and grew in popularity over the years for its range of offerings, from an array of vintage fashion and furniture to antiques and plants. But the market was forced to close in March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic was just starting to take hold of the west and Los Angeles went on lockdown.

Although the market is held outside, its size left it within the range of crowds prohibited by the city and state of California for the last year. The market was trying to find a way to reopen for several months last year, but with the number of people in L.A. falling ill with the virus spiking several times last year, it was unable to do so. Instead, it struck a licensing deal with Free People, bringing some semblance of the market online for the first time.

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But now, L.A. may finally have the pandemic under control, as cases are the lowest they’ve been since March last year, according to the county health department, and the vaccine rollout widens. The county is reporting fewer than 500 cases a day of the virus, down from more than 14,000 at the start of January.

The county’s declining number of cases, along with dramatic declines in related hospitalizations and deaths, saw it just move into a more relaxed tier of state-mandated restrictions on business capacity. Under the new “orange” tier, outdoor theme parks and live event venues, like sports stadiums where the Rose Bowl Flea is held, are allowed to operate at 33 percent capacity, leading to the market’s reopening.

Other L.A. businesses, like retail and grocery stores, are still being told to operate at 50 percent capacity, while bars that do not serve food are being allowed to reopen outside for the first time at the same level. Elsewhere, things like movie theaters, restaurants, churches and museums can reopen indoors for the first time, too, at 25 percent capacity.

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