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County Health Officials Issue Warning Against 'In-Person Gatherings'

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By Jorge Casuso

September 2, 2020 -- If you plan a backyard barbecue this Labor Day weekend, make sure not to invite any friends.

That's the warning issued by Public Health officials on Tuesday who caution that there continues to be widespread transmission of the virus in Los Angeles County despite a steady decline in cases over the past month.

"It is important not to gather with people who aren’t part of your household as it puts you at a greater risk for COVID-19," health officials said in a statement.

"It is still safest to stay at home and avoid gatherings, even if everyone present is taking precautions."

Officials listed examples of the "in-person gatherings" that are not permitted under the emergency orders "even if they feel safe."

They include the following:

  • Celebrating the new arrival of a baby with a baby shower or gender reveal party,
  • Having a barbecue with a group of friends in the backyard for Labor Day,
  • Hosting a study group with school students,
  • Having dinner with extended family and friends to honor the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur), and
  • Gathering at the beach with friends over the hot weekend.

"These types of gatherings are risky as they bring together people who do not live together and increase the chances of community transmission," health officials said.

County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the stakes are high as the County explores the possibility of re-opening more businesses and, eventually, schools.

"Increased numbers of people being around one another can result in more transmission of COVID-19, at a time where we need to be doubling down on our efforts to slow the spread," Ferrer said.

She noted that inspections conducted by health officials over the weekend found that 20 percent of restaurants and 17 percent of markets are still failing to comply with the Health Officer Orders.

"This does not help us get our numbers down,” Ferrer said.

On Wednesday, health officials announced that after consulting with the Board of Supervisors the Health Officer Order has been revised "to allow for limited, on-campus operation for schools in L.A. County, as well as limited in-door operations of Hair Salons and Barbershops."

Starting September 14, schools can offer in-school services for "small cohorts of students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP)," students requiring instruction for English as a Second Language (ESL) or students needing assessments or specialized in-school services, health officials said.

Schools must be able "to fully implement the Health Officer’s re-opening protocols." according to officials.

Hair salons and barbershops that are in full compliance with the health protocols can re-open for indoor services at 25 percent occupancy but are encouraged to "continue outdoor operations when possible."

Ferrer said a "cautious" and closely monitored reopening "is needed to ensure we are not experiencing significant spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as we saw in July after re-openings and holidays."

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