Coronavirus: California issues new guidance for private gatherings

In anticipation of Californians’ aching to host or attend holiday gatherings in the coming months, state health officials have laid out new guidance for how those events can and should take place.

Marking a departure from previous guidance that barred private gatherings of any size, state officials now say up to three households may gather at a time outdoors.

The new guidance released by the California Department of Public Health on Friday allows outdoor private gatherings of up to three separate households, provided certain social distancing protocols are met. The guidance does not apply to religious or cultural gatherings otherwise specified in the state’s reopening blueprint.

In a press briefing Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged people to stay vigilant — even as the guidance allows for more socializing than before.

“That does not mean people should now rush back to their original form,” Newsom said. “…We are entering into the holidays — and also part of the year where things cool down and people are more likely to congregate indoors and in settings that put their physical proximity and the likelihood of transmitting the disease at higher risk.”

As of Monday, California had recorded more than 856,000 coronavirus cases and more than 16,500 deaths related to the disease, according to state health data compiled by this news organization.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly Ghaly said the purpose of the new guidelines is “not say it’s a good idea or appropriate to gather with three families but to really say, more than three households you really are increasing your risk.”

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Up until Friday, state health officials had repeatedly said gatherings were not permitted “unless otherwise specified” in the state’s sector-by-sector guidelines. And still now, the guidance mandates that gatherings are limited to two hours in duration, be held outside, and that attendees should wear face coverings unless they take them off “briefly” to eat or drink.

Because activities like singing, chanting and shouting increase the distance respiratory droplets travel and therefore increase the risk of spreading COVID-19, state health officials strongly discourage them at gatherings. People at a higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 — such as older adults and people with preexisting medical conditions — are likewise urged to stay home, along with anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Californians should also keep the households that they’re socializing with stable over time and to ensure that they know the names and contact information for each attendee in case contact tracing is needed at some point.

Still, it wasn’t immediately clear how the guidance will affect some local jurisdictions’ reopening plans; throughout the pandemic, state and local officials have made clear that whichever rules are more restrictive will apply.

In Santa Clara County, for example — which expects to move up to the “orange” tier Tuesday within Newsom’s color-coded reopening scheme — a new risk reduction order would allow for gatherings of up to 200 people. Newsom’s new guidance appears to bar such gatherings if not deemed a religious, cultural or other specified …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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