In this file photo from May 11, 2020, the bike and walking paths start to fill as residents are allowed to use them after closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Following state and county guidance earlier this week, Long Beach officials said they will allow for private gatherings consisting of no more than three households to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The new health order, effective today, is a departure from earlier guidance that only households who live together as a unit gather.

The new guidance comes ahead of Halloween and other fall festivities, when officials worry people may hold large gatherings that have been blamed for spreading the virus. County public health director Barbara Ferrer emphasized that the same three households should gather, if they choose.

“It is recommended that if you do gather with two other households, you do so with the same households each time, creating a quasi-bubble that can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others,” she said earlier in the week.

The city’s health order allows for the following:

  • Allows private gatherings of up to three households; gatherings that include more than three households, including hosts and guests, continue to be prohibited.
  • The up-to-three households that choose to privately gather or interact together must remain constant or stable over time.
  • Persons from the households who do choose to privately gather together should discuss and agree upon rules for reducing the risk of exposure among attendees.
  • The host household of the private gathering should collect names and contact information for all attendees in the event that contact tracing may be needed later.
  • All private gatherings must be held outside. Indoor gatherings are prohibited.
  • Private gatherings may occur in outdoor spaces that are covered by umbrellas, canopies, roofs and other shade structures provided that at least 75% of the space is open to outdoors
  • Multiple private gatherings of three households may not be organized or coordinated to occur in the same outdoor space at the same time.
  • Private gatherings should be limited to two hours or less in duration.
  • All attendees must wear a face covering at all times, unless eating or drinking, and must follow 6-foot physical distancing guidelines and adhere to proper hand hygiene.
  • Singing, chanting, shouting and physical exertion are discouraged as these activities release respiratory droplets into the air.

Anyone who develops COVID-19 within 48 hours after attending a private gathering must notify the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services as well as other attendees as soon as possible.