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    October 11, 2020

    EL CENTRO — Effective Saturday evening, county residents could gather with members of up to two other households as long as they remain outdoors, keep their distance, wear masks, avoid singing and not play any wind instruments like clarinets.

    Imperial County Health Officer Dr. Stephen Munday issued the amended health order Saturday, and it took effect at 5 p.m. It reflects guidance recently released by the California Department of Public Health.

    The new guidance allows private outdoor gatherings of members of up to three separate households and gives local health officers authority to enforce additional limits.

    Due to the continued widespread circulation of COVID-19 in Imperial County, Munday added an attendance limit of no more than 16 people for all private social gatherings. Additionally, the new order disallows high-risk activities such as singing and the use of wind instruments during these gatherings as a way to further reduce the spread of COVID-19.

    The three separate household total consists of everyone in attendance, including the hosts.

    “While we know that gatherings of any size pose an increased risk of virus transmission, there are things we can do to lower that risk,” Munday said. “Limiting the number of households that come together, avoiding high-risk activities, and meeting in outdoor spaces helps to reduce the risk of virus spread.”

    The state recommends that individuals keep the households that they interact with consistent over time, adding that participating with multiple different households or groups is strongly discouraged. Hosts of social gatherings are encouraged to gather contact information for all attendees, should contact tracing become necessary following the event.

    The full Guidance for Private Gatherings can be found on the California Department of Public Health website at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/CDPH-Guidance-for-the-Prevention-of-COVID-19-Transmission-for-Gatherings-10-09.aspx.

    The amended local health officer order can be found at www.icphd.org.

    The county said it expects that the state will release guidance related to Halloween activities sometime next week.