'Keep It Short:' California Releases Guidance On Gatherings

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  • Gavin Newsom
    Gavin Newsom
    Governor of California

CALIFORNIA — The fall and winter months will bring more than one tempting occasion to celebrate with others, and many more cold days to push gatherings inside. In anticipation for the inevitable holiday season, California released guidelines and mandatory requirements for all gatherings.

As of Friday, gatherings can be held outdoors, can last for less than two hours and are permitted as long as attendees are limited to three separate households.

Singing, yelling or any other type of physical exertion is listed as an extreme risk for transmitting COVID-19 and should be avoided, health officials said. All attendees should remain 6 feet away from each other in all directions and wear a face covering.

This is the first time since March that public health officials are allowing gatherings at any capacity, but they definitely aren't recommending them.

"Guidance doesn't mean go," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at Monday news conference. "...That does not mean people should just now rush back to activities."

The guidelines were published just days before more than 100,000 people poured into the streets of downtown over the weekend in Los Angeles to support Armenia and celebrate the Lakers' first championship win over a decade.

READ MORE: These Angelenos Need To Get Coronavirus Tested, Officials Warn

"We put that up as a way to tee up future guidance around how to minimize our risk in some activities we know many Californians are considering, the first of which coming up is Halloween," said California State Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly at a Monday news conference.

The set of recommendations and restrictions fill in a lot of gray areas for what is and what isn't allowed at gatherings, right down to actually taking a roll call of all guests, in case an outbreak occurs.

"The host should collect names of all attendees and contact information in case contact tracing is needed later," the Oct. 9 document reads.

Small gatherings may occur in public parks with up to three households involved, but groups should not mingle with other groups in public parks or outdoor spaces. Multiple gatherings in the same public park are also prohibited.

For those who insist on socializing with others in person, public health officials recommend keeping a tight and stable circle.

"Keep the households that you interact with stable over time," the statement says. "By spending time with the same people, risk of transmission is reduced."

State officials also maintain that gathering indoors is still too risky and provided guidance on what types of outdoor coverings were safe to use.

Umbrellas, canopies, awnings, roofs, and other shade structures are permitted as long as at least three sides of the space or 75 percent are open to the outdoors.

And of course, anyone feeling sick should avoid mingling with others completely.

During Monday's briefing, Newsom said that more details and specific guidelines on gatherings would be made available in the coming weeks.

The state's official guidance on small gatherings can be found here.

This article originally appeared on the Across California Patch

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