SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — California governor Gavin Newsom’s office issued an updated policy on public gatherings Wednesday, saying non-essential gatherings of 250 people or more should be postponed or canceled until the end of March to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Newsom’s office said smaller events can proceed only if the organizers can “implement social distancing of 6 feet per person.” People who are at higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 are advised to not gather with more than 10 people.

“Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know,” said Newsom in a statement. “That’s the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease. Not holding that concert or community event can have cascading effects — saving dozens of lives and preserving critical health care 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.”

The state defines a “gathering” as any event that brings people into a single room or space at the same time, including auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large conference rooms, meeting halls, cafeterias, or any other outdoor/indoor space.

The new guidelines apply to non-essential professional, social and community gatherings “regardless of their sponsor.”

“These changes will cause real stress — especially for families and businesses least equipped financially to deal with them. The state of California is working closely with businesses who will feel the economic shock of these changes, and we are mobilizing every level of government to help families as they persevere through this global health crisis,” added Governor Newsom.

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