Contra Costa County health officials issued a health order Friday that will allow outdoor gatherings to resume provided that attendees remain in their vehicles.

The order, which goes into effect May 19, will offer a new gathering option for events like religious services and academic graduation ceremonies that have been canceled or moved online as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Gatherings could take place in large areas like parking lots for no more than three hours. Event hosts and staff members would be permitted to attend gatherings outside of a vehicle, but all other attendees must remain inside.

Contra Costa County Supervisors Candace Andersen said:

“The evidence suggests that the shelter-at-home order and other social distancing measures that we have undertaken as a community are helping to slow the spread of Covid-19 in our area.”

Anderson said:

“We must remain cautious, but the time has come for some controlled community gatherings.”

Event hosts must obtain permission from the property owner where a gathering will take place and written health and safety guidelines. Gatherings larger than 10 vehicles must also have security to monitor vehicle traffic and safety.

Nik Wojcik/SFBay Some schools may opt for in-vehicle graduation ceremonies and other events as counties like Contra Costa being allowing vehicle-only outdoor gatherings during the Covid-19 shelter and physical distancing orders.

Event hosts will not be required to make public restrooms available but must maintain strict sanitization guidelines if they choose to do so.

Sale of food and other concessions at gatherings will not be allowed but event attendees can receive important documents such as a diploma in accordance with physical distancing guidelines as outlined by Contra Costa Health Services.

County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said:

“We have made a lot of progress this spring, but Covid-19 is still circulating in our community. We are carefully tracking data related to infections and hospitalization to determine when and how to gradually ease social restrictions in the health orders.”

As of Friday morning, 1,100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Contra Costa County, including 33 reported deaths. Nearly 22,000 people have been tested countywide, according to county data.

The text of the full order can be found at coronavirus.cchealth.org.

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