• Coronavirus

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Order – Large Public Gatherings

Published:  March 13, 2020

Order of The Health Officer of the County of Sonoma No. C19-01

Date of Order: March 13, 2020

Imposing a Countywide Moratorium on Large Gatherings Consistent with Guidance Issued on March 11, 2020 by The California Department of Public Health and the Office of the Governor in Order to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19

Please Read This Order Carefully. Violation of or Failure to Comply with this Order is a Crime Punishable by Fine, Imprisonment, or Both. (Health and Safety Code §120295, et seq.)

Under The Authority Of California Health And Safety Code Sections 101040, 101085, and 120175, the Health Officer of the County of Sonoma ("Health Officer") Orders:

  1. Effective as of 11:00 a.m. on March 13, 2020 and continuing until this Order is rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer or by the State Public Health Officer, public or private large gatherings, defined below, are hereby prohibited in Sonoma County ("County").
  2. This Order is issued based on evidence of increasing transmission of COVID-19 within the worldwide, scientific evidence regarding the most effective approaches to slow the transmission of communicable diseases generally and COVID-19 specifically, as well as best practices as currently known and available to protect vulnerable members of the public from avoidable risk of serious illness or death resulting from exposure to COVID-19. The age, condition, and health of a significant portion of the population of the County places it at risk for serious health complications, including death, from COVID-19. Although most individuals who contract COVID-19 do not become seriously ill, persons with mild symptoms and asymptomatic persons with COVID-19 may place other vulnerable members of the public at significant risk.
  3. This Order will reduce the likelihood that many individuals will be exposed to COVID-19 at a single event, and will thereby slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. By reducing the spread of COVID-19, this Order will help preserve critical and limited healthcare capacity in the County.
  4. This Order is issued in accordance with, and incorporates by reference, the March 11, 2020 Gathering Guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health and the Officer of the Governor; the March 4, 2020 Proclamation of a State of Emergency issued by Governor Gavin Newsom; the March 2, 2020 Proclamation of Local Emergency for the County of Sonoma issued by the Director of Emergency Services Declaring the Existence of a Local Emergency in the County Regarding Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19); the Declaration of Local Health Emergency Regarding Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) issued by  the  Health  Officer; the March 4, 2020 Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Sonoma Ratifying and Extending the Declaration of a Local Health Emergency, and the March 4, 2020 Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Sonoma Ratifying and Extending the Proclamation of a Local Emergency.
  5. This Order is issued in light of the existence of 3 cases of COVID-19 in the County, as of the morning of March 13, 2020, including a significant and increasing number of assumed cases of community transmission. Widespread testing for COVID-19 is not yet available, but is expected to increase in the coming days; this moratorium is necessary to slow the rate of spread while further data becomes available.
  6. This Order is issued in light of the World Health Organization announcing on March 11, 2020 that COVID-19 is a global pandemic.
  7. This Order is issued to prevent circumstances often present in large gatherings that may exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, such as: (a) the increased likelihood that large gatherings will attract people from a broad geographic area; (b) the prolonged time period in which large numbers of people are in close proximity; (c) the difficulty in tracing exposure when large numbers of people attend a single event; and (d) the inability to ensure that attendees follow adequate hygienic practices.
  8. This Order comes after the release of substantial guidance from the County Health Officer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other public health officials throughout the United States and around the world. The Health Officer will continue to assess the quickly evolving situation and may modify or extend this Order, or issue additional Orders, related to COVID-19.
  9. I hereby order:
    1. Large gatherings shall be postponed or canceled. A large gathering is a gathering that include 250 people or more and includes, but is not limited to, concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events.  
    2. Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 shall be limited to no more than 10 people, except for family gatherings. This includes, but shall not be limited to, gatherings such as those at retirement facilities, assisted living facilities, developmental homes, and support groups for people with health conditions.
  10. Definitions:
    1. For the purposes of this Order, a “gathering" is any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space. This applies to all non-essential professional, social, and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor.
    2. For the purpose of clarity, a "gathering" does not include activities such as attendance at regular school classes, work, courthouses, detention facilities, or essential services.
    3. To the extent the Sheriff or any chief of police has any questions regarding the definition of a "gathering" under this Order, the Health Officer hereby delegates authority to the County Counsel to answer such questions in writing.
  11. I recommend that smaller gatherings held in venues that do not allow social distancing of six feet per person should be postponed or canceled. This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms or other venues.
  12. I recommend that gatherings that are not covered by this Order should only be conducted when they are essential—that is, if the activity is essential and could not be postponed or achieved without gathering, meaning that some other means of communication could not be used to conduct the essential activity.
  13. I recommend that all gatherings that continue to take place in Sonoma County under this Order should continue to monitor and comply with all guidance issued by the Sonoma County Department of Health, Public Health Division, California Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the World Health Organization.
  14. Pursuant to Government Code sections 26602 and 41601 and Health and Safety Code section 101029, the Health Officer requests that the Sheriff and all chiefs of police in the County ensure compliance with and enforce this Order.
  15. This Order shall become effective at 11:00 a.m. on March 13, 2020 and will continue to be in effect until it is earlier rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer or by the State Public Health Officer.
  16. Copies of this Order shall promptly be: (1) made available at the County Administration Center at 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa CA 95403; (2) posted on the County Public Health Department website (https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Public-Health/); and (3) provided to any member of the public requesting a copy of this Order.

It Is So Ordered:

Dr. Sundari R. Mase, MD MPH
Health Officer of the County of Sonoma

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