After the state announced it was easing its coronavirus restrictions to allow up to three households to socialize outdoors, Los Angeles County health officials on Wednesday announced they will be amending local guidelines to align with the rest of California.
Gatherings of three or less households will be allowed starting Thursday in L.A. County, while large congregations — excluding people in houses of worship or at public protests — remain prohibited, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of L.A. County’s Department of Public Health, said at a coronavirus briefing.
The change comes after the state released guidelines last Friday allowing outdoor private gatherings of up to three separate households, provided masks and certain social distancing protocols are met. Indoor gatherings with people outside of an immediate household are still strongly discouraged.
Ferrer noted that gatherings with folks from other households increase the risk for transmitting or becoming infected with COVID-19.
“It is recommended that if you do gather with two other households, you do so with the same households, each time creating a quasi bubble,” said Ferrer. “That can reduce the risk of spreading.”
Ferrer also warned that folks who have recently attended large gatherings, such as the recent protests and Lakers championship celebrations, should be aware they could have been exposed to the virus and should self-isolate for 14 days.
“As a community, we need to keep in mind the obligations to each other, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Ferrer noted that the risk is even higher for infection if there were members of the crowd not wearing masks or face coverings.
“If you were in a crowd with nonhousehold members, especially if people weren’t wearing their face coverings and were chanting, cheering or singing, you may have been exposed to COVID-19,” she said.
Ferrer reminded people that the virus can spread, even between people who are not showing any symptoms at the time. She added that people should wear masks during gatherings and that if people do feel ill, they should not participate in these group activities.
“If you attended one of these gatherings, it’s very important that you stay away from other people, especially from those at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and monitor yourself for symptoms for the full 14 days from your exposure.”
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases began rising again after the county began reopening certain businesses reopening after months of restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the county reported 22 new deaths due to COVID-19 and 1,349 new cases, bringing totals to 6,812 deaths and 285,016 cases.
L.A. County health officials said Tuesday that an increase in coronavirus cases linked to social gatherings and workplace outbreaks is keeping the area from moving into a less restrictive reopening tier.
The county remains in the most restrictive tier — the purple tier — for widespread risk of transmission.
“This is not the time to be complacent — we still have a great deal of transmission of COVID-19 across our communities,” Ferrer said. “We’re beginning also to see some modest increases in cases and outbreaks. And while this can be expected… It is concerning, and it will slow down our recovery journey. We need to keep doing what we know works.”