Car gatherings banned

Madera County Public Health Director Sara Bosse and Health Officer Simon Paul, M.D., have issued a warning against gathering in cars to add to stay-at-home orders in place in California.

The purpose of the current public health stay-at-home orders in place in California is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our community. While asking people to stay in their cars while attending events may seem like a way to gather without a risk of exposure, there remain significant problems with this plan:

• People may attend from distant areas where events have been closed and there is a high level of community COVID-19. This could bring more cases of COVID-19 to our area.

• Members of multiple households may come together in the confined space of a single car, especially if the attendance is limited by parking.

• Some visitors may decide to leave their cars for a number of reasons, and others may join them to be supportive.

• Travelling to and from events may lead to stops for restroom breaks, snacks, etc., that expose our community to COVID-19.

For the above reasons drive-through/drive-in events do not qualify for an exception to the ban on mass gatherings currently in place. This applies to all mass gatherings other than for essential businesses of more than 10 people, including funerals, worship services, and social gatherings. We recognize the need for people to connect and offer support and comfort; however gatherings are a major contributor to the spread of COVID-19.

We suggest that organizers consider other methods for “virtual” group meetings that can be held online, on conference calls, or by other means.