Federal officials are recommending that all gatherings of more than 50 people be canceled or postponed over the next eight weeks, throughout the country.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a guideline Sunday evening that recommends “that for the next eight weeks, organizers [whether groups or individuals] cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States,” to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the COVID-19 disease it causes.
The CDC’s “Interim Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 [COVID-19]” could affect church services, weddings, parties, small conferences, and other events, and could have ramifications for bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and other remaining entertainment and leisure businesses. Certainly it could address political rallies and protests, and potentially apply to government public meetings.
However, the CDC’s definitions only mention a few of those kinds of gatherings, and do not explicitly include or exclude many possibilities.
The federal agency also cautioned that gatherings of any size should be carried out only with care.
The CDC states that its guideline does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses.
The CDC published its guideline shortly after Gov. Ron Desantis said Sunday evening that he was awaiting CDC guidance before deciding whether to take any actions regarding spring breakers on the beaches, or regarding restaurants, and bars. DeSantis applauded the mayors of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale for setting curfews for beaches, restaurants and bars in those cities.
The CDC guideline would recommend a much more drastic approach.
“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.
“Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
“Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.
This recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus. This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.”