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Holiday guidance: Yolo County suggests Thanksgiving, Christmas gatherings limited to 16 people

With the holiday season coming up, there may be a concern that families and friends will want to gather together to celebrate.

YOLO COUNTY, Calif. — The Yolo County Public Health Department has published guidance on gatherings during the holidays, complimenting similar guidelines that the county published in late October.

"During this turbulent year, residents faced a pandemic, protests, elections, and wildfires, while being physically separated from others," the department said in a press release. "Many residents will feel the need to reconnect for mental health, overall well-being or sense of normalcy."          

Yolo County is asking residents to limit gatherings to just three households in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Groups can only meet outdoors and for a maximum of two hours.

However, unlike state guidance, Yolo County is also going so far as to limit the number of people to 16. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, there may be a concern that families and friends will want to gather together to celebrate the season.

"We really wanted to be proactive and help keep our businesses open and help keep us in the red tier," Jenny Tan, Yolo County Public Information Officer, said of the county's limit on gatherings to 16 people. 

The following activities are considered lower risk and safer alternatives to traditional celebrations, according to the county:

  • Sharing traditional recipes with family/neighbors and delivering them in a way that does not involve contact.
  • Decorating your home with winter accents.
  • Hosting or attending winter craft activities online.
  • Scheduling a virtual holiday dinner.
  • Shopping online rather than in-person in stores.
  • Video chatting with others and swapping stories.
  • Hosting a holiday movie night at home.
  • Organizing a virtual game night.
  • Holding an ugly sweater contest virtually.

The guidance is specifically geared towards those upcoming holidays and mentions that restrictions also apply to businesses' social gatherings, such as holiday parties. One tip from the county is to "bend traditions."

"Modify religious and cultural ceremonies to protect participants from COVID-19, which can be spread by sharing common or high-touch surfaces and by singing or chanting," suggests the guidance.

These new rules also differ from previous restrictions that Yolo County has released, including specific tips to stay "food-smart." While there is no evidence to suggest handling food or eating can directly spread COVID-19, it is possible to get the virus from touching contaminated surfaces and utensils.

Some of the tips are familiar: wash hands, wear a mask except when eating and avoid direct contact between food handlers and eaters. Other guidelines may throw a wrench in your holiday plans, as Yolo County is discouraging potlucks, but says guests can bring their own food and drinks to a gathering, or should consider ordering from a restaurant.

In addition to limiting people and households when it comes to gathering, the county also recommends the following:

  • Keep the households you interact with stable over time and limit how many you interact with. There is a lower risk of transmission if you only spend time with the same few people from the same few households. Gathering with different households at different times increases the risk.
  • Indoor gatherings pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Ensure proper ventilation, such as open windows or doors and good air flow. Wear face coverings while gathering indoors.
  • Ask everyone who will be attending the gathering to limit contact with people outside their household for 14 days before the gathering.


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