Groups larger than 50 people shouldn’t gather for the next two months while the country tries to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to new guidelines issued Sunday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For now, the officials are recommending such events be postponed or canceled.
The guidelines do not extend to the day-to-day operations of businesses or schools, the CDC said, which are nonetheless shuttering across the country.
Sunday’s recommendations, while not enforceable by law, could regardless ensnare weddings, funerals, and family reunions. They will certainly contribute to the cancellation of more sporting events and concerts. And they come as individual cities and states enact new rules to shut down restaurants and bars, following the recommendations of public health officials. All the measures are meant to protect people from contracting COVID-19, the incredibly contagious disease caused by the novel coronavirus that’s sickened at least 1,629 and killed 41 in the U.S., according to official numbers from the CDC, and more than 150,000 globally.
“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” the CDC said on its website. “Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.”
The health officials’ guidelines come several days after cities and states took their first steps to ban events of more than 1,000 people. Cities then enacted legal, emergency orders against gatherings of 250 people. At the time, the measures were unprecedented, and led to sporting leagues suspending their seasons while pop stars pulled the plug on world tours.
Cover: A shopper wearing a mask is pictured near a sign advising out-of-stock sanitizer, facial masks and rubbing alcohol at a store following warnings about COVID-19 in Kirkland, Washington on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)