California County Will Allow Outdoor Social Gatherings of 12 People—and Outdoor Protests of 100 People

Is Contra Costa County—and Ventura County, and the rest of the State run by idiots.  The government in many places will not allow more than 12 people, unrelated to gather together.  At the same time, they allow thousands to gather, protest and in many places riot, loot and burn.  Not the Governor and the Mayors did not stop it.  In Simi Valley for instance, on Saturday 2,000 people protested—causing dozens of major businesses to close down and banks to be boarded up.  Yet, it was the Police Chief and city officials that met with protest leaders and actually set the terms of the protest and the route from a shopping center area to City Hall.!!  Instead of enforcing County and State rules against gatherings—government officials promoted and facilitated it.

“Take Contra Costa County, California. On June 2, the Bay Area county’s Health Services department issued an updated shelter-in-place order that limited outdoor social gatherings to 12 people from the same “social bubble” but rescinded a mass gathering ban to allow for political protests of up to 100 people. This version of the order maintained a prohibition on outdoor religious gatherings.

“I know there’s a lot of frustration out there, but it’s important to keep in mind that interventions like social distancing have saved lives,” said Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, in a press release.

Seriously, why should anyone follow any of the rules set by health directors?  They do not enforce it—unless you want to open a business or wave the American flag.  Instead, they are promoting events that burn the flag—and approve of it—but do not wave the flag with your neighbors begging to go back to work.  Sick.  The curfews can no longer be enforced.  The number in allowable gathering can not be enforced—just words on paper.

California County Will Allow Outdoor Social Gatherings of 12 People—and Outdoor Protests of 100 People

The phased reopenings happening around the country are becoming increasingly arbitrary.

Christian Britschgi, Reason,  6/8/20    

The country’s local lockdown orders are slowly easing up, but in an often arbitrary manner.

Take Contra Costa County, California. On June 2, the Bay Area county’s Health Services department issued an updated shelter-in-place order that limited outdoor social gatherings to 12 people from the same “social bubble” but rescinded a mass gathering ban to allow for political protests of up to 100 people. This version of the order maintained a prohibition on outdoor religious gatherings.

“I know there’s a lot of frustration out there, but it’s important to keep in mind that interventions like social distancing have saved lives,” said Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, in a press release.

A subsequent order issued Friday allows for outdoor religious services and cultural ceremonies of up to 100 people. As with protests, these services and ceremonies are expected to maintain physical distancing between participants. Unlike protests, the organizers of worship services and cultural ceremonies have to keep a list of attendees for up to 14 days.

Yet Friday’s order still restricts social gatherings to 12-person social bubbles. These bubbles are defined as a stable group of 12 people that are part of either a Household Support Unit, a Childcare Unit, or a Children’s Extracurricular Activity Unit. All three types of units have separate definitions laid out in the health order’s appendix.

These 12-person social bubbles are not required to abide by social distancing requirements, but bubble members over the age of 12 are still encouraged to maintain six feet of physical distance from each other and to wear face coverings.

Outdoor dining is now also permitted in Friday’s order, although that too comes with a number of social distancing guidelines.

All this falls within state guidelines. On May 25, California allowed counties to permit in-person protests, funerals, and religious services (inside and out) of up to 100 people. It’s still up to county health departments to implement these guidelines. Contra Costa County has lifted its restriction on protests and religious services, but it still maintains a prohibition on funeral services of more than 10 people.

The county’s reopening schedule, and the voluminous details that accompany it, are rather arbitrary and not particularly realistic. It doesn’t make much sense from a public health perspective to ban outdoor gatherings of a 13-person “social bubble” while allowing a crowd of 100 strangers. It’s true the latter has to comply with social distancing requirements, but anyone who’s been to a protest knows that that’s not always going to happen.

One could argue that political protests and religious services raise particular First Amendment concerns and therefore can’t be held to the same strict guidelines as other activities. But if that’s the case, the county might as well just ditch all its restrictions, given that people are going to go to protests of a bunch of strangers and then go interact with their social bubble.

I think county officials are also overestimating their ability to set the parameters of people’s social interaction. It’s doubtful many in Contra Costa are going to read through a 17-page public health order and its six separate appendices to figure what exactly is allowed at their barbeque.

At least the arbitrariness of the county’s reopening schedule doesn’t appear to be politicized in the way a lot of public health discourse has recently. Both New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy have said explicitly that violating mass gathering bans is OK if the gatherings are to protest police violence and racism. That’s a position apparently held by a number of public health officials too.

Yet the more distinctions and caveats public health officials and politicians add to their stay-at-home orders, the less credibility they have, and the less they’ll likely be listened to by a public that is ready to get back to some sort of pre-pandemic normality.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Dntgiveup says

    This makes as much sense as the rest of the legislation this state enacts. So tell me if you can have a protest/riot of a 100 people and only a gathering of 12 people does this mean this overblown virus reads our laws and abides by them? This is more liberal lunacy to the Nth degree and they can count me out, their stupidity is above and beyond all comprehension.

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