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Sacramento Fourth of July restrictions and enforcement plans amid coronavirus

With the coronavirus looming over firework displays and backyard barbecues, health officials are urging that you reconsider gathering to celebrate.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — With many live firework and Fourth of July festivities canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, revelers are strongly advised to stay away from big gatherings this weekend.

Some Sacramento residents may be tempted to invite friends and family over for a classic backyard barbecue or 'Safe and Sane' mini firework show.

However, health officials are advising everyone in the area to stay at home, celebrate indoors with only household members, and if you are watching a large firework display, stay in your vehicle.

"We've been doing anti-gathering messaging for several weeks starting with Mother's Day through Memorial Day weekend, graduation season and most recently Father's Day," said Janna Haynes, public information officer for Sacramento County, in a statement to ABC10. "After these major holiday and celebration events, in conjunction with a false sense of security due to business re-openings, we're now seeing the fallout."

This guidance follows an amended public health order from the county, which took bars off the list of allowable activities for the foreseeable future.

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Sacramento County has seen an increase in day-to-day coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the last few days, leading many businesses, parks, and more to rollback reopenings and require strict social distancing/mask policies.

Despite new rules and regulations, Haynes says there is very little enforcement of these policies, leading some to take advantage despite the danger to themselves and others.

"We have little recourse for enforcement on private gatherings," Haynes said. "We continue to work to educate residents on the dangers of gathering and provide our best tips for outdoor gatherings, knowing people will do it anyway."

Dr. Peter Beilenson, Director of Health Services for Sacramento County, said in a statement that family gatherings — such as Independence Day celebrations — leave at-risk family members extremely vulnerable, even if those family members do not attend a gathering in-person.

Should family members unknowingly contract the virus, even those loved ones who stayed at home could be infected later on.

"Through our rigorous contact tracing investigations, we know that many people are transmitting the virus through private, in-home gatherings with family and friends—a situation that most often results in little social distancing, no face coverings and a relaxed atmosphere," Beilenson said.

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To help curb some of the inevitable gathering that will go on this weekend, Sacramento County's regional parks have put rules into place that limit certain activities.

For instance, all picnic and barbecue areas are currently closed, which means firing up the grill elsewhere. Alcohol is also temporarily banned along the shoreline and on the American River between Hazel and Watt avenues.

Though not a new rule, the use or possession of fireworks is also banned at regional parks. Even 'Safe and Sane' fireworks are prohibited.

Celebrate while socially distant, perhaps with family or roommates. You can still enjoy the summer heat and Fourth of July festivities from the comfort of your home.

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