By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer County of Santa Barbara, Department of Public Health
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has consistently advised you to wear masks, stay six feet apart and avoid gatherings if not with household members. But what does a gathering consist of? Are we allowed to gather with people that live inside our house? And what about family that lives elsewhere?
According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, members of the same household ARE permitted to gather both indoors and outdoors. A household is defined as people who live together under the same roof, whether it be family, friends, or roommates. A household only changes when a member permanently moves out, not on a day to day basis.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department prohibits any gathering of people from different households. A gathering is anytime people get together in any place and for any reason, such as to eat, shop, work, meet, play, or pray. This includes hosting visitors in your home, having sleepovers or play dates, backyard barbecuing with friends, shopping with others, visiting with family or friends not from your household, and going to work in a non-essential capacity. It is important to understand that any in-person gathering of those not in your household is considered non-essential, and is not permitted at this time, whether it is inside or outside.
Again, the only people that are legally permitted to gather are those who live with you on a day to day basis.
These guidelines from the County Public Health Department are not merely suggestions, but legal requirements that must be followed. Please remember to social distance and wear masks in public, when you are around others, and while at essential locations, such as the grocery store or pharmacy. Following these guidelines will help us all stay safe and slow the spread of COVID-19.
However, there are still fun ways to hang out at home and stay connected to others! You can eat dinner at home, play in your yard, have a family game night or movie marathon, go for a drive, go on a family hike, walk the dog, video chat friends and family, or go to the beach (at a social distance from others).
To learn more about what the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is doing to serve and protect our community through the coronavirus, visit: www.publichealthsbc.org.
Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP is a graduate of Justus-Liebig-University Medical School Giessen, Germany. He completed Residency training in Munich, Germany and Tucson, AZ and is board certified in Family Practice (Germany) and Internal Medicine (USA). Dr. Ansorg is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and is on the Medical Staff at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. He has many years of experience in different clinical settings including 10 years of Private Practice and Urgent Care in Munich, Germany as well as 11 years of Internal Medicine/Geriatrics in Arizona as well as 4 years at the Santa Barbara County Health Care Center. Dr. Ansorg has served as Public Health Officer for Santa Barbara County since April 2019.