The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. This means:

  • wear a mask when out in public
  • practice physical distancing
  • wash hands frequently
  • minimize time spent with people outside of your household

You should be especially careful during the holiday season – normally a popular time to attend gatherings or travel.

Due to spikes in COVID-19 cases, the State of California has had to tighten restrictions again. 

A November 19 Limited Stay-at-Home Order requires that all non-essential work and activities stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for counties in the purple tier. See your county’s tier status.

A December 3 Regional Stay at Home order divided the state into five regions. If a region’s ICU capacity drops below 15%, the Regional Stay at Home Order will go into effect for at least three weeks. It prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes most businesses except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing.

Before reading the guidance below about gatherings or travel, check the state website regularly to see if your area is impacted by any restrictions.

How can I stay safe while resuming more activities in public?

Before you decide to resume more activities in public, consider:

  • Whether COVID-19 cases are increasing or decreasing in your area
  • How vulnerable you and your loved ones are to illness
  • Whether you can maintain a safe distance from others

Remember: The more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.

The State has a tool that shows what activities are allowed in each county. These restrictions change from week to week and are based on a color-coded system.

You can search by your ZIP code to find out what color tier your county is currently in.

Show me what's open

California uses several factors to decide when businesses or activities can reopen or resume. These include the current number of COVID-19 cases in an area.

Is it safe to host or attend a small holiday gathering?

Remember to check the state site to find out if your region’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity has dropped below 15%.

If you’re still able to hold small gatherings in your area, follow the State of California’s guidelines for small gatherings. These include:

Attendance – Keep it small

Gatherings that include more than three households are prohibited. This includes everyone present, including hosts and guests. Remember, the smaller the number of people, the safer.

Location – Outside is better

Gatherings that occur outdoors are significantly safer than indoor gatherings. All gatherings must be held outside in the Purple Tier, and indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged in Red, Orange, and Yellow Tiers. If gathering indoors, increase fresh air circulation by opening windows or doors, as much as possible, especially in the rooms where people are gathering. When indoors, it’s safer for household pods to eat together.

Don’t attend or host if you feel sick

Anyone with any COVID-19-like symptoms must stay home and not come into contact with anyone. Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, night sweats, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, muscle or body aches, headaches, confusion, or loss of sense of taste/smell.

High-risk groups should go virtual

People at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 (such as older adults and people with chronic medical conditions) are strongly urged not to attend any gatherings, especially indoor gatherings. Connect with families over the phone or online.

If you do go in person, keep your visit short, stay at least six feet from others, wear a surgical or N95 mask (not cloth), and spend more time outside rather than indoors.

Physical distancing and hand hygiene required

For any gatherings permitted under this guidance, the space must be large enough so that everyone at a gathering can maintain at least a 6-foot physical distance from others (not including their own household) at all times. Everyone should frequently wash their hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Don’t share utensils, food or drinks.

Face coverings at all times

When gathering, face coverings must be worn around anyone you don’t live with unless an exemption is applicable. People at gatherings are advised to limit removal of their face coverings to when they are actively eating or drinking.

Length – Keep it short

Gatherings should be two hours or less. The longer the duration, the bigger the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Is it safe to travel?

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

The State of California recommends limiting travel to no farther than 2-3 hours by car. If you must travel out of the state or country, you should quarantine for 14 days upon your return.

You can get COVID-19 during your travels. Remember: You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to others.

Don't travel:

  • If you are sick
  • If you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • If someone you were planning to travel with is sick

Before you decide to travel, check with the local health department where you are starting from, along your route, and at your planned destination for information. Consider these four factors:

  • Is COVID-19 is spreading at your destination?
  • Does your destination have restrictions on travelers including mandatory quarantine?
  • Is anyone in your household is especially vulnerable to illness if they get COVID-19?
  • Will you be able to keep 6 feet of physical distance from others during or after your trip?

Learn more about the risk factors associated with different kinds of travel.

How can I minimize my risk if I do go outside?

If you must go out in public, follow the four steps below to protect yourself and others.

1. Wear a mask or face covering

It is now required that everyone in California must wear a mask or face covering when outside of their home, with limited exceptions.

  • Wear a mask correctly and consistently for the best protection
  • Choose a mask that covers your nose and mouth, goes under your chin, and fits snugly against the sides of your face
  • Be sure to wash your hands before putting on a mask
  • Do not touch the mask when wearing it

Get helpful information about masks and face coverings.

2. Practice physical distancing

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Reduce close contact (less than 6 feet) for prolonged periods with others outside of your immediate household
  • Avoid gatherings, large crowds, and indoor spaces with poor ventilation
  • Keep at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) apart from others outside your household

Under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away, according to the CDC.

These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had poor ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.

3. Wash hands frequently

Keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

4. Minimize mixing

In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer the time spent together, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.

It’s important to remember:

  • Interacting with more people outside of your household raises your risk
  • Spending longer amounts of time with people outside of your household also increases risk
  • Gatherings that include more than three households are prohibited in California

How can I stay healthy while at home and lower my risk of getting sick?

Stress, lack of movement, and poor eating choices can easily erode your health during the shelter in place. Healthy eating and self-care can be a great way to lower your risk of getting sick.

Our virtual Wellvolution® programs can help you:

  • Eat better
  • Manage stress
  • Treat chronic conditions like diabetes

Programs are available to most Blue Shield of California and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan members at no extra cost. 

Learn more at wellvolution.com.

Please note: Medi-Cal and some self-funded employer-sponsored plans do not have access to Wellvolution. Please contact the member services number on your ID card if you’re not sure if you have access to Wellvolution.