Is friendship legal in the Bay Area? Here's where 'social bubbles' and small gatherings are allowed

ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As shelter-in-place restrictions ease around the Bay Area, some counties are also allowing residents to start socializing again - with restrictions, of course.

Many counties are allowing people to form "social bubbles," which is a safer way of seeing friends and family outside the household. Basically, a social bubble is a group of 12 or fewer people that agree to socialize with only each other for a period of at least three weeks. That way, you can see people outside your household, but you're exposing yourself to only a small group of people.

County health departments are also advising people to consider only gathering outdoors to mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus even further.

So where are social bubbles allowed? Where are you technically allowed to socialize outside your household?

Here's how it breaks down by county in the Bay Area:

Alameda: Yes, social bubbles of 12 or fewer are allowed. More info here.

Contra Costa: Yes, social bubbles of 12 or fewer are allowed. More info here.

Marin: Yes, social bubbles of 12 or fewer are allowed. More info here.

Napa: No, social gatherings are not allowed. "Social gatherings are not currently allowed In Napa County, with certain exceptions, as with a funeral (up to 10 attendees)," a spokesperson told ABC7 News.

San Francisco: It's complicated. The city hasn't explicitly modified its stay-at-home order to allow for social bubbles, but it released guidelines and a Q&A with the public health department on ways people can socialize more safely. The city acknowledges that seeing friends and family can be good mental health, and advises people take steps to reduce risk, like hanging out outdoors and wearing face coverings.

San Mateo: Yes, social bubbles of 12 or fewer are allowed. "While face coverings and social distancing are always recommended, members of a social bubble do not have to adhere to these requirements when they are with members of their social bubble in outdoor settings," reads the updated advice from San Mateo County. More info here.

Santa Clara: Santa Clara County's new public health order, which went into effect on July 13, technically allows for some social gatherings, but says "gatherings of any size outside of a single household remain strongly discouraged because they carry significant risk of exposure to COVID-19." Indoor gatherings of more than 20 people (or more than 1 person per 200 square feet) are strictly prohibited. Outdoor gatherings must be fewer than 60 people and everyone must have room to socially distance. People who are gathering socially need to still follow face covering and social distancing guidelines.

Sonoma: No, Sonoma County hasn't explicitly allowed for social bubbles or small social gatherings despite broad reopening.

Solano: No, Solano County's health order does not allow social bubbles. "Most of our current outbreaks are due to social gatherings that occurred starting with Mother's Day, Memorial Day and other weekend celebrations/get-togethers since," a county spokesperson said.

Losing track of all the other reopening differences between Bay Area counties? We've created the interactive map below to help you sort through it all.