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Small, Short Gatherings Permitted

California Department of Public Health has issued new guidelines for small, short group gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, adding formal rules to possible gray areas.


The state of California, Department of Public Health (DPH) will now permit outdoor private gatherings that last two hours or less as long as attendees are from no more than three separate households. Everyone should continue to wear masks, physically distance, and wash hands. And people should not attend gatherings if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or if they are in a high-risk group.

California Still Reeling from Coronavirus Pandemic

California has had more than 846,579 reported cases of coronavirus, and 16,564 deaths as of Sunday, October 11. The statewide positivity rate — the percentage of coronavirus tests that come back positive — over the past 14 days is 2.6%.


The gatherings guidance comes about six weeks after the state began allowing business activity back at the county level using a four-tier, colored system. Restaurants, retail shops, and other activities open at various outdoor or indoor capacities based on how severe the virus spread is in the county. 


Similar to those county-by-county, city-by-city adjustments,


Keep it short and outdoors

If you're going to get together with your friends, the CDPH guidelines say it's best to keep it to two hours or less. That's because the risk of transmission goes up the longer you're mixing with people from other households. 


No more than three households should gather at a time, including the hosts and guests, the guidance says. Limiting attendance is not only a way to reduce the risk of spread, but it makes it easier to contact trace if there is a positive case discovered.


People are also advised to keep the households they're socializing with the same. CDPH says the risk of transmission is reduced if you're spending time with the same people, while "participating in multiple gatherings with different households or groups is strongly discouraged."


Anyone who develops COVID-19 within 48 hours after attending a gathering should notify the other attendees as soon as possible.


Gathering outdoors makes a big difference, CDPH says. Circulating can help reduce the spread, while public health studies have also shown the risk of transmission is increased in indoor spaces.


CDPH says outdoor gatherings should be held in a space that's large enough to allow people to stay six feet away from others who aren't in their household. Umbrellas, canopy tents, or other shade structures are permitted. 


Get-togethers in parks and public spaces with three or fewer households are allowed, though the group shouldn't mix with any other groups present.

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