Reports of large gatherings in city parks have spurred the city of Antioch to remind residents that such unpermitted events violate county and state health orders.

Nancy Kaiser, Antioch Parks and Recreation director, said in a statement that as COVID-19 continues and the pandemic stretches into the fall, state and county orders clearly prohibit outdoor gatherings, including those of recreational team sports, contact sports and social parties.

“The city has received many reports of large un-permitted gatherings in parks, as well as teams and spectators meeting for sporting events,” said Nancy Kaiser, Parks and Recreation director. “Parks are essential to physical and mental well-being, but it is important that we all follow state and county health orders to keep the virus from spreading.”

Though Kaiser could not speak on specific incidences, she said that as the re-opening of communities expanded, and more amenities became available to families, city staff observed an increase in activities that don’t meet the current health orders, including recreational team sports. A family from the same household can play catch on an athletic field or have a picnic, but not people from different households, she said.

While the county encourages people to stick close to home and with people from their own household, social bubbles are permitted of small stable groups of 12 people or fewer “who have collectively agreed to limit their in-person social activities to only each other for at least three weeks.” People in such groups are still encouraged to social distance and to wear masks with people not from their own household, according to county officials.

The increase in unpermitted group gatherings and multiple teams getting together to compete is happening in communities across the region, Kaiser added. In recent weeks, city of Pittsburg and Concord officials have also warned against gatherings after sports teams were found practicing and competing.

Kaiser reminded Antioch residents are allowed to use city parks and trails for exercise and socially distant activities with families only. In addition, while the boat launching parking lot at the marina is open for boaters, other parking lots, such as the one on the waterfront by the Antioch Senior Center, are closed to discourage gathering, she said.

California public health directives prohibit professional, social and community gatherings because they pose an especially high danger of transmission and spread of COVID-19. Heath officials define gatherings as meetings or other events that bring together persons from multiple households at the same time “for a shared or group experience in a single room, space, or place such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, or other indoor or outdoor space.”

Contra Costa County also prohibits public events and gatherings as well as recreational team sports.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors passed an urgency ordinance on July 28 establishing
fines for violations of public health orders pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fine will cost $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second one and $500 for each additional one after that within a year that the public health order is in effect. For businesses, a first infraction will be $250, the second one $500 and each one after that $1,000.

Before issuing a fine, an enforcement officer can issue a “notice of violation” and give a person or business up to two days to correct the offense. The enforcement officer also can immediately fine someone and skip the notice.

For more information about park use and the activities allowed at this time, call the Recreation Department at 925-776-3050.

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Author: Judith Prieve