California Coronavirus Update: Theme Parks Re-Opening “When We’re Ready”; Halloween “Small Gatherings” Are Now Allowed, State’s Top Doctor Says

“Families should begin planning safer alternatives now” when it comes to Halloween because of the coronavirus, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said today with a new loosening on in-person social gatherings.

In a topic on Hollywood’s mind and bank balance, Ghaly also addressed the contentious issue of if or when guidelines will be issued for theme parks like Disneyland and Universal to reopen safely with COVID-19 protocols. “It will come out when we’re ready. We are working closely with our industry partners,” the CH&HS Secretary said. “We will continue to lead with public health and look at our data … slow and stringent, moving forward.

“The team visited Florida theme parks, likely in Orlando,” Ghaly added of the research the state is conducting at Disney World and other places to determine how to open some of the happiest places on Earth on the West Coast. “We wanted to find out in action how a park and the community surrounding it functions in a time that we’re facing COVID transmission, and how it plays out not just in the park but beyond.”

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Just over two weeks before the big night, In language very similar to that announced by L.A. County public health officials last month, the Golden State’s top doctor of sorts also “strongly discouraged” trick-or-treating and Halloween parties. With local measures also to be considered, what Ghaly did say is that Californians should follow “small gathering guidelines” or “celebrate virtually.”

In terms of small gatherings, the state’s new guidance says that no more than three households can meet up outside on October 31. Those gatherings should last no more than two hours. Moving not just toward Halloween but also the November 3 election and Thanksgiving, this is the first time since the pandemic started that the state has said straightforwardly that citizens can meet up.

“We don’t want to turn something that is a time of joy into something contentious,” DrGhaly said, promising that this is not a “ban” on trick-or-treating and that there would not be fines or other such punishments as California “does Halloween different this year” — as the state graphic to the right states.

Asking Californians to “get your flu shot” as we move deeper into the fall and flu season, Ghaly re-emphasized social distancing, wearing of masks and hand-washing in the briefing Tuesday. “Wear your face covering — and not the costumed mask that you have,” he noted.

Today’s announcement about Halloween guidelines follows mixed messages that were issued in early September by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Officials opted initially to shut down Halloween over the risk posed COVID-19. Then in less than a day, LACPD Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer “revised” the guidelines.

“Halloween gatherings, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted even if they are conducted outdoors.” As well, “carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions are not allowed” either. That said, drive-in haunted houses, which are quickly becoming the norm such as with Netflix’s Strange Things, are par approved.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s absence from the state’s COVID-19 briefing today comes as his office this morning unveiled its sure-to-be-controversial recommendations on to “improve police response to protests and demonstrations.”

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