California Governor Calls for All Gatherings of More Than 250 to be Canceled, Postponed

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Gavin Newsom

The recommendation from Gov. Gavin Newsom, an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), could impact major sports events, movie premieres and concerts, including WonderCon in Anaheim and Major League Baseball's Opening Day.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has recommended the cancellation or postponement of gatherings of 250 or more people, which would include sports events, movie premieres and concerts, until “at least through March” as the state grapples with a worsening outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“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 health care 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.”

On Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health issued a series of recommended policies to stop the spread of COVID-19, including limiting non-essential gatherings to no more than 250 people with smaller events only proceeding if organizers can implement social distancing of six feet per person. The state's public heath experts also recommended that events with people at higher risk of contracting the virus should limited to no more than 10 people and also follow strict social distancing protocol. 

Implementation of the state's guidelines would directly impact upcoming events such as Major League Baseball's Opening Day, which takes place on March 26 and potentially, if the guidelines are extended, Anaheim's sci-fi and comic book convention WonderCon, which is held April 10-12. 

The new public health guidelines come as a number of the state's organizations implement their own plans to deal with the spread of COVID-19, a situation given further impetus after the World Health Organization officially declared the rapid spread of the virus as a pandemic on Wednesday. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Entertainment Software Association, the NBA and the Overwatch League are among the growing number of organizations and companies to cancel large gatherings in the last 24 hours. 

COVID-19 has resulted in more than 4,600 deaths worldwide and affected more than 125,000 people in numerous countries, per Johns Hopkins University's case tracker. On Wednesday night, the U.S. took drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the country, which now has over 1,300 confirmed cases. Homeland Security officials stated that new travel restrictions would apply to most foreign nationals who have been in Europe's "Schengen Area" at any point for 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States.