Yolo County announces gathering guidelines: 16 people from up to three households allowed

Yolo County announces gathering guidelines: 16 people from up to three households allowed

Photo Credits: Katherine Hung / Aggie

Gatherings must be held outdoors for maximum two hours, important to slow virus’s spread

In a press release published on Oct. 21, Yolo County announced local gathering guidelines “with recommendations and conditions on how residents and family can more safely gather to protect” everyone’s health while reducing the transmission of COVID-19. 

In an effort to help stop Yolo County from moving back into the Purple Tier, the press release describes that Yolo County “updated the amendment to the local order” to limit gatherings to three households, with at most 16 people. These gatherings must only be held outdoors and can happen for a maximum of two hours. 

The recommendation also applies to business social gatherings, according to the press release. 

“These restrictions also apply to business social gatherings, such as holiday parties,” the press release reads. “Industries that manage gatherings as part of their operations, such as wedding venues, restaurants, and religious services should continue to follow state and local guidance for their specific industry.”

Chair of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors Gary Sandy explained in the press release the importance of continuing to be safe and follow guidelines, especially during the holiday season. 

“Gatherings have proven to be one of our most pressing challenges in containing the spread of the virus,” Sandy said in the press release. “With the holidays just around the corner it will be necessary for everyone to keep them small in size and among immediate family and close friends only. It is everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to stop the spread of the virus and in so doing protect our community’s health and safeguard the continuing operation of local businesses.”

Dr. Larissa May, a professor of emergency medicine and former interim health officer of Yolo County, further described the importance of the restrictions on gatherings.

“In terms of Yolo County, the state had some concerns, I think about equity, and therefore didn’t put a cap on the number of people that can be present at a gathering,” May said. “However, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as we know that in Yolo County most of our cases and outbreaks are coming either from social gatherings, essential workers or long-term care and skilled nursing facilities.”

For this reason, May explained that Yolo County decided to place a limit on the number of people allowed in gatherings. 

“We really wanted to put a number on it to prevent very large gatherings from happening that involve multiple households, and really more for enforcement in cases where these gatherings were larger than they really should be for safety,” May said. 

May also noted that while cases in the county have been in a plateau, cases around the country and world are “surging,” so it is possible that in a few weeks Yolo County will also experience a rise in cases. 

If cases continue increasing in the next week, Yolo County could move into the Purple Tier, according to another press release published by Yolo County on Nov. 4 about the week ending on Oct. 24. 

“Yolo County’s metrics increased to meet the more restrictive purple, or widespread, tier in the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy (Blueprint) though the County is still classified to be the red, or substantial, tier,” the press release reads.

May also noted that guidelines for holiday gatherings will be released.

“We’ve already released guidance for agritourism, Halloween and handing out candy safely,” May said. “We know that the biggest risk with this virus is the transmission tends to occur in large groups, which we call superspreading events—where there’s someone who’s infectious, who may be mildly symptomatic or not be symptomatic yet or be even asymptomatic—and spread it to multiple other members of the group who then spread it to the people they’re in contact with.”

May explained that smaller gatherings are the safest, and people must wear face masks and physically distance.

“The activities that are safer are those that occur outdoors, those that are distanced where people are physically separate at least six feet from each other, and importantly also the use of face coverings—particularly when you can’t separate yourself,” May said. 

May also highlighted that while the potential of mass testing asymptomatic members of the Davis community and students may occur, it’s important to continue to be cautious and not have false reassurance. 

Important precautions to follow include wearing face coverings, avoiding large gatherings or parties (especially those with multiple households and indoors), minimizing gatherings and holding them outdoors. 

A full list of precautionary measures and the local guidance can be found in the local gathering guidance from Yolo County.

May added that although lockdown has been long and draining, everyone must continue to adhere to safety guidelines in order to slow the spread of the virus. 

“We understand that we’re all tired of this pandemic, but unfortunately the virus doesn’t care how we feel, and so we need to continue to be vigilant and continue to gather safely and continue to protect our vulnerable populations,” May said. 

 Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org