California Gov Gavin Newsom Asks Gatherings of More than 250 People to Be Canceled to Avoid Coronavirus

“Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know,” Newsom says in statement

California Governor Gavin Newsom
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in accordance with new guidelines from the state’s Department of Public Health, is asking that all gatherings of more than 250 people be canceled throughout the state in an effort to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 illness caused by the coronavirus.

This would include almost all sporting events, most concerts, many movie screenings, high volume workplaces, and many restaurants and bars, not to mention film premieres and large scale media events. Though not mandatory, Newsom called on Californians to follow the guidelines through at least the end of March.

The new guidelines, posted Wednesday night, are the strongest measures yet in the state’s efforts to contain the disease that has infected more than 150 Californians. Along with limiting gatherings to 250 people or less, the guidelines also call for measures like social distancing of at least 6 feet or more — and cancellation of events which cannot accommodate that distance, regardless of crowd size.

“Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know. That’s the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease,” Newsom said in a statement Wednesday night. “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.”

Though it remains to be seen how many events will comply with the new guidelines, California already has a serious head start. Newsom’s announcement comes near the end of a wave of even cancellations due to fears about coronavirus, including the E3 Expo video game conference, originally scheduled for June, PaleyFest LA, which was to begin this Friday, and the entirety of the remaining NBA season.

The guidelines also come just hours after President Trump laid out the latest federal response to the coronavirus, which most notably includes a ban on travel from Europe — except, for some reason, the U.K.

Read the full list of guidelines, and detailed explanations for how they can be followed, here.