Governor Gavin Newsom Wednesday night announced that California public health officials have determined that gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March, likely affecting the NCAA basketball tournament's West Regional scheduled for March 26-28 at Staples Center.
"Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know,'' Newsom said in a statement. "That's the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease. Not holding that concert or community event can have cascading effects -- saving dozens of lives and preserving critical healthcare resources that your family may need a month from now. The people in our lives who are most at risk -- seniors and those with underlying health conditions -- are depending on all of us to make the right choice."
Smaller events must be limited to no more than 250 people and can only take place if organizers can implement social distancing of six feet per person and gatherings of people who are at higher risk for severe illness from coronavirus should be limited to no more than 10 people and also follow the social-distancing guidelines, the statement said.
According to the state's updated policy, a gathering is now defined as "any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria or any other indoor or outdoor space" and applies to "all nonessential professional, social and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor."
Essential gatherings should only take place if the activity could not be postponed or carried out without people gathering, the statement said.
"These changes will cause real stress -- especially for families and businesses least equipped financially to deal with them,'' Newsom said. "The state of California is working closely with businesses who will feel the economic shock of these changes, and we are mobilizing every level of government to help families as they persevere through this global health crisis."