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California county only permits 'small outdoor social gatherings' but allows protests of up to 100

Residents are permitted to gather in groups up to 12, but protests can be much larger than that.

Updated: June 6, 2020 - 2:35pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Residents of Contra Costa County, Calif. are forbidden from hosting anything more than "small outdoor social gatherings," but they are allowed to gather in "protests of up to 100," according to new coronavirus health rules promulgated this week. 

A press release from county officials earlier this week stipulated that county residents can "hang out with small groups of loved ones starting June 3." In that same release, authorities said that the new health order "permits protests of up to 100 people."

On the county website, health officials offer more detailed explanations for both of those stipulations. 

"People may now have small outdoor gatherings," the site states. "These gatherings should only include household 'support bubbles,' meaning a stable group of up to 12 people who engage in activities typical of members of the same household, such as carpooling, transporting children, childcare, family recreation and religious services." 

"Participants are strongly encouraged to maintain social distancing, wear face coverings, cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently, and stay home if they are sick," it continues. 

Elsewhere the county, which is adjacent to the city of San Francisco, lays out guidelines for attending protests, which are permitted to be much larger than the "small outdoor gatherings" the county permits. 

"The protest must be outdoors. Persons may participate in protests if they wear face coverings and comply with Social Distancing Requirements, and attendance does not exceed 25 percent of the area’s maximum capacity or 100 persons, whichever is lower," the rules stipulate. 

The county is also allowing for religious services to take place under combination guidelines—indoor services are capped at 12 people, while outdoor services are capped at 100 people—though unlike protests, church services must keep detailed records of everyone who attends them. 

"A record of attendance, including the names and contact information for each attendee at a service or ceremony, must be created and preserved by the Place of Worship for a minimum of 14 days, and provided to Contra Costa Health Services immediately upon request in the event that a COVID-19 case is linked to the event," the county states. 

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