With Thanksgiving just five weeks away, and Christmas not too far behind, the California Department of Public Health (DPH) recently released new “Guidance for Private Gatherings.” The October guidance “provides an updated plan for Californians to gather outside their household and replaces the prior gatherings guidance issued on September 12, 2020 and March 16, 2020.”

According to the DPH, “Gatherings are defined as social situations that bring together people from different households at the same time in a single space or place. When people from different households mix, this increases the risk of transmission of COVID-19.”

Among the “Mandatory Requirements for All Gatherings” are these:


  • Gatherings that include more than 3 households are prohibited. This includes everyone present, including hosts and guests. Remember, the smaller the number of people, the safer.
  • The host should collect names of all attendees and contact information in case contact tracing is needed later.

Gather Outdoors

  • Gatherings that occur outdoors are significantly safer than indoor gatherings. All gatherings must be held outside. Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized.

Don’t Attend Gatherings If You Feel Sick or You Are in a High-Risk Group

Practice Physical Distancing and Hand Hygiene at Gatherings

  • For any gatherings permitted under this guidance, the space must be large enough so that everyone at a gathering can maintain at least a 6-foot physical distance from others (not including their own household) at all times. 

Wear a Face Covering to Keep COVID-19 from Spreading

Keep it short

Rules for Singing, Chanting, and Shouting at Outdoor Gatherings

  • All people who are singing or chanting should wear a face covering at all times while singing or chanting, including anyone who is leading a song or chant.
  • People who are singing or chanting are strongly encouraged to do so quietly (at or below the volume of a normal speaking voice).

So families with more than three households won’t be able to all meet together for Thanksgiving, unless the guidelines change. And they’ll have to meet outside for turkey and pumpkin pie. And they can’t sing the Doxology unless they do so, “below the volume of a normal speaking voice.

The state guidance also explains that counties and cities may have their own guidelines for what is allowed at private gatherings – so some families may face even more restrictions. The state has also “created an exception to the prohibition against mass gatherings for faith-based services, cultural ceremonies, and protests.”

The guidelines were released just as the World Health Organization was warning against lockdowns, due to their negative economic impact – not to mention the high cost of loneliness, depression, domestic abuse and substance abuse that have increased with the COVID-19 quarantines. They also came out as researchers questioned the effectiveness of lockdowns in slowing the spread of the virus.

As The Daily Citizen previously reported, thousands of epidemiologists and health professionals signed The Great  Barrington Declaration, which said, “Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden.”

California’s initial emergency executive order, issued in March by Governor Gavin Newsom, included an enforcement mechanism: “This Order shall be enforceable pursuant to California law, including, but not limited to, Government Code section 8665.” That code says that those found guilty of violating the state order could be subject to fines of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

Some cities and counties in California have also created their own penalties for quarantine violations.

Related articles and resources:

COVID Restrictions are Doing More Harm than Good, Say Three Epidemiologists and a Growing Number of Physicians

Coronavirus and Domestic Violence

Dealing With Anxiety and Depression During the Coronavirus

Help for Families During the COVID-19 Crisis

How to Care for Your Mental Health During Coronavirus

What Happens if Being Home Isn’t Safe? – Quarantines Leading to Increased Domestic Violence Calls

World Health Organization Changes Tune, Warns Against Lockdowns Due to Negative Economic Impact

Counseling & Referrals: Focus on the Family offers a one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective. We can also help you identify a counselor in your area whose perspective you can trust.

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