Contra Costa County to allow vehicle-based gatherings, services

Contra Costa stay-at-home order extension includes new directives
Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County, speaks at a news conference on March 23, 2020.

Starting Tuesday, May 19, Contra Costa County will allow outdoor vehicle-based gatherings, providing new options for religious services and graduation ceremonies. 

“The evidence suggests that the shelter-at-home order and other social distancing measures that we have undertaken as a community are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our area,” Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen said in a statement Friday. “We must remain cautious, but the time has come for some controlled community gatherings.”

The announcement comes three days after the West Contra Costa Unified School District announced its high school graduation ceremonies would be conducted virtually rather than in-person. Previous to the WCCUSD decision, County health officers urged school districts to hold virtual graduations, or possibly a drive-through ceremony or small-group gatherings.

Under the new order, vehicle-based gatherings must take place in large, outdoor areas such as parking lots for three hours or less. No motorcycles are allowed, as all attendees except for the host and staff must be in enclosed vehicles. Events come with written plans to ensure physical distancing and other safety requirements must be followed, the county said. With over 10 vehicles, hosts must have security for traffic and safety.

Participants are allowed to use on-site restrooms under the order and for the transfer of items such as diplomas. But food sales or concessions are not permitted, and attendees must wear face coverings if they roll down the windows, the county said.

“We have made a lot of progress this spring, but COVID-19 is still circulating in our community,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, county health officer. “We are carefully tracking data related to infections and hospitalization to determine when and how to gradually ease social restrictions in the health orders.”

Visit to read the order and for other COVID-19 updates by the county.