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Newsom formally allows social gatherings in California for first time during pandemic

California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. | Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

SACRAMENTO — California health officials late Friday released rules allowing social gatherings for the first time since the pandemic began, enabling up to three households to get together outdoors.

Details: The new rules follow general guidance that has emerged over the last several months.


Participants must stay six feet apart and wear masks except while eating or drinking. Besides requiring gatherings outside, the California Department of Public Health encourages residents to stick to the same three households as much as possible, essentially forming a social bubble. Such occasions can occur at private homes or in parks.

The state says hosts should make sure to log the names of all attendees and their contact info in case of an infection. It says anyone with symptoms should not attend and that anyone who contracts Covid-19 within 48 hours should notify other attendees as soon as possible.

People attending gatherings can go inside to use the bathroom as long as it is regularly sanitized.

Such events should last no longer than two hours to limit exposure. And singing, chanting and shouting are “strongly discouraged,” though if they occur, participants should wear masks and try to keep the volume down.

Context: The state until now has prohibited gatherings of households, though many have gotten together for months.

It comes as California infection rates are on the decline after a summer surge. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has steadily rolled out additional guidelines in the last few weeks for activities that had little clarity until now. In late September, the state released rules enabling playgrounds to reopen.

Newsom and health officials expressed concern this spring about gatherings after some Mother’s Day and graduation get-togethers led to disease spread, particularly those that occurred indoors.

What’s next: The biggest impact is laying out best practices when gathering. Many residents have already formed social bubbles or gotten together outside and faced little risk of enforcement.

The rules come as the weather begins to cool heading further into the fall and winter, potentially testing whether residents will heed the advice to keep social gatherings outdoors.

Source Article

The August Complex wildfire has topped 1M acres in California. That’s ‘proof’ of climate change, Gov. Gavin Newsom says.

California reached another alarming milestone Monday in its historic wildfire season: A single fire has burned 1 million acres. 

California wildfire evacuee: ‘we lost everything’



The August Complex, which has spread into seven counties since sparking Aug. 17, is larger than the combined total of all of the state’s wildfires from 1932 to 1999, Gov. Gavin Newsom said. It has destroyed or damaged nearly 250 structures, according to Cal Fire.

an orange sunset in the background: The August Complex Fire burns near Lake Pillsbury in the Mendocino National Forest of California on Sept. 16, 2020.

© Noah Berger, AP
The August Complex Fire burns near Lake Pillsbury in the Mendocino National Forest of California on Sept. 16, 2020.

This comes a day after fire officials said this year’s wildfires have burned more than 4 million acres — more than double the previous record.

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“If that’s not proof point, testament, to climate change, then I don’t know what is,” Newsom said.

The Northern California blaze, which began as a series of fires ignited by lightning in the Mendocino National Forest, became the state’s largest wildfire last month, with officials warning that it will likely merge with the Zogg Fire near Redding.

‘Scared to death’: In California wine country, wildfire-fatigued residents weigh the unthinkable: Moving out

Video: California couple recalls ‘wall of fire,’ exploding trees as they escaped Glass Fire (KTXL-TV Sacramento)

California couple recalls ‘wall of fire,’ exploding trees as they escaped Glass Fire



“It’s likely the Zogg Fire may make its way into the August Complex, (which) remains the largest wildfire in terms of total acreage burned in California’s history,” Newsom said last week.

As of Monday afternoon, the August Complex was 54% contained.

Fire crews have made progress against the Zogg Fire, which started Sep. 27. Containment was at 80% Monday night, the second straight day the blaze has not grown in acreage. 

The Zogg Fire has killed four people, destroyed 204 buildings,and burned 56,305 acres. The cause is still unknown, according to Cal Fire.

In the wine country, fire officials on Monday lifted some evacuation orders in Sonoma County, where the Glass Fire has charred 66,840 acres. It was 41% contained.

More than 1,230 buildings have been destroyed, including wineries and beloved landmarks such as Napa’s famed Restaurant at Meadowood, by the Glass Fire, which sparked on the same day as the Zogg Fire.

Contributing: Susan Miller and Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY; David Benda and Matt Brannon, Redding (Calif.) Record Searchlight; The Associated Press