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State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health

March 16, 2020

All Californians

CDPH Guidance for the Prevention of COVID-19 Transmission for Gatherings

This Guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only.

​To protect public health and slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19, gatherings as described below should be postponed or canceled across the state of California until further guidance is issued by the California Department of Public Health. 

The California Department of Public Health finds the following: 

  • All gatherings should be postponed or canceled. 
    • This includes gatherings such as concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events. 
  • Gyms, health clubs, and theaters should be closed. 
  • 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. Gatherings that do not meet the aforementioned criteria 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 function.

What will this achieve? 

The timely implementation of aggressive strategies that create social distance and those that reduce close contact of people not regularly together, including limiting gatherings, has proven effective in prior pandemics at delaying rates of transmission and reducing illness and death. 

By decreasing the prevalence of disease across California we will: 

  • Reduce the number of Californians who contract COVID-19 before an effective treatment or vaccine is available.
  • Protect those most likely to experience severe symptoms, such as older Californians and those with underlying chronic conditions. 
  • Preserve and protect our health care delivery system, including our health care workforce, so they can care for the least healthy individuals in the community for any medical condition, not just COVID-19. 
  • Minimize the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 over the long run.

How long will these limitations apply? 

This guidance will remain in place until further guidance is released by the California Department of Public Health. As with all guidance that relates to COVID-19 response, authorities will revisit this guidance on a regular basis to evaluate the continued public health need for it and to evaluate if any elements need to be changed. To stay informed, continue to monitor the California Department of Public Health's web page on COVID-19 guidance

Examples of Essential Events this Does Not Apply To 

The goal of this recommendation is to prevent people physically coming together unnecessarily, where people who have the infection can easily spread it to others. This guidance does not apply to activities such as attendance at regular school classes, work, or essential services. 

Please see the guidance for schools document for additional information. 

Certain activities are essential to the functioning of our state and must continue. Hence, this does not apply to essential public transportation, airport travel, shopping at a store, mall, or farmers' market, or charitable food pantries and distributions. Other specific guidance can be found on the CDPH website to help people take actions that can protect them in those settings.

This does not apply to congregate living situations, including dormitories and homeless encampments. For more information on what can be done to protect homeless individuals, please see the Guidance for Homeless Assistance Providers on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (PDF).