Monterey County residents are now free to mingle—within a stable group of 12 individuals called a “social circle” that will be together for four weeks. It comes with other caveats: circles can only meet outdoors, six-feet apart, with facial coverings for anyone age 13 and up.
Health Officer Edward Moreno released a “Social Circle Guidance” yesterday, June 19. It went into effect immediately. A social circle could be members of a household within a “friends support unit.” Children can join a “children’s extracurricular activity unit," aka a summer camp or recreational program. If everyone follows the guidelines the risk of transmission will be low, Moreno states in the guidance.
The caveats continue, for example, children in extracurricular activity units can’t participate in two different activity units at the same time. Children can be in an activity unit and a household and friend’s social unit, but adults can only be in one household and friend’s unit, so no double dipping on social circles.
It gets tricky sometimes depending on the circumstances, but the Monterey County Health Department has it all laid out here.
Other changes took place in the last couple of days as well, including new personal care businesses allowed to expand services or reopen and a state-wide facial covering requirement.
The personal care businesses affected as of Friday, include nail salons, skin care and cosmetology services, estheticians, body art professionals, tattoo parlors, piercing shops and massage therapy outside of health care facilities. The businesses must follow strict guidelines for cleanliness and safety, as well as follow social distancing rules.
On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an order requiring facial coverings for everyone statewide, something Monterey County required of residents almost two months ago.
“Over the last four months, we have learned a lot about Covid-19 transmission, most notably that people who are infected but asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic play an important role in community spread,” states the state's guidance. “The use of face coverings by everyone can limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing, and/or sneezing, as well as reinforce social distancing.”
The order requires facial coverings in “high-risk situations,” including: inside of, or in line for, any public space; obtaining services from a health care provider, veterinary clinic or at a blood bank; waiting for or riding on public transit or riding in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle.
Working situations are also included in the order, whether at the worksite or offsite. Requirements include: wearing facial coverings around the public; where food is being prepared; walking through common areas; inside any enclosed area where social distancing is not possible.
Having a mask is also required in outdoor environments where it’s not possible to maintain six feet, like on crowded trails.
There are a long list of exceptions to the facial covering order, at the top of which is children age two and under due to suffocation risk. People with medical conditions, those communicating with hearing impaired, or while receiving services like dentistry, are among a few of the exemptions. In some cases, like people with medical conditions, the guidance says they should wear a “non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.”
The guidance also gives suggestions on cleaning facial coverings. Washing after each use is recommended, or at least daily. Keep facial coverings in a bag or bin until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle.