(The Center Square) – The California Department of Public Health published new guidelines for private gatherings that could significantly limit how extended families celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving.
According to the Guidance for Private Gatherings, Californians are now required to hold Thanksgiving dinner outside of their home and only for two hours or less.
“Attendees may briefly go inside to use restrooms if the facilities are frequently sanitized,” the guidance adds.
Families are permitted to host Thanksgiving dinner in outdoor spaces “that are covered by umbrellas, canopies, awnings, roofs, and other shade structures provided that at least three sides of the space (or 75 percent) are open.”
The guidance says that, “No more than three households are permitted, including hosts and guests,” and the host of Thanksgiving celebrations “should collect names of all attendees and contact information in case the state or county wants to contact trace the guests later.”
Families are required to social distance, including arranging seating at least six feet apart “(in all directions – front-to-back and side-to-side) between different households.”
No passing of mashed potatoes, cranberry salad, or turkey on a platter is allowed this year as food cannot be served communal style.
A place to wash hands or use hand sanitizer must be available, the mandate states, and “Food or beverages must be in single-serve disposable containers. If providing single-serve containers is not possible, food and beverages must be served by people who wash or sanitize their hands frequently and wear a face covering.”
Families and attendees should wear masks in-between bites.
“Face coverings must be worn and removed only briefly to eat or drink if attendees stay at least six feet away from everyone outside their own household.”
The mandate also discourages singing, chanting, shouting, and exercising, the playing of music and wind instruments or any instruments that touch a musician’s mouth.
Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said in a statement, “The same Gov. Gavin Newsom that has encouraged thousands of total strangers to protest together in the streets, now wants to impede upon the freedom of families and friends to enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday.”
Liberty Counsel has sued the governor several times over executive orders issued, alleging they violate the California and U.S. Constitution, including the governor’s worship and singing ban only directed towards religious organizations.
“For some families, Thanksgiving will not include grandma and the children or siblings,” Staver adds. “Imagine family members traveling for hours only to be restricted to a two-hour outdoor gathering without physical contact! What if the weather is too hot or cold or it rains? For Gov. Newsom to think he has authority to micromanage a private family Thanksgiving dinner is the height of hubris. These restrictions are ludicrous.”
The state has not said how it will enforce the Thanksgiving guidance, adding, “Local health jurisdictions may be more restrictive than this guidance.”
The guidance was issued as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in California.
As of Oct. 28, the state is reporting 908,713 positive coronavirus cases and 17,475 deaths reportedly linked to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.