As the season turns toward the most holiday-laden part of the year, from Halloween through New Year’s Day, the LA County Department of Health on Wednesday issued new, slightly more premissive rules for pandemic-era private gatherings. The announcement reflects the reality that almost everyone attends, or would like to attend, gatherings of friends and family during this time of year, despite the fact that COVID-19 cases have been on the upswing again recently.
According to the order, which is an update to the previous Safer at Home guidelines, private gatherings will now be limited to people from no more than three separate households, are required to be outdoors only, and for a maximum of two hours, with proper social distancing. Indoor social gatherings are still prohibited, as are larger outdoor gatherings.
In a statement about the announcement, the Health Department also cautioned that “private gatherings with people from different households increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission, with the risk increasing the longer the gathering.” And the department suggested that, to minmize risks as much as possible, “if you do gather with two other households that you do so with the same households each time, to create a quasi-bubble that can reduce the risk of spreading the virus.”
According to news reports, COVID-19 cases in LA have been trending upward again since more businesses have been allowed to reopen in the last few weeks, and because many people may have been exposed at other kinds of large gatherings recently, such as those that took place after the Lakers recently won the NBA Championship.