Cities postpone, cancel events to help control COVID-19

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As COVID-19 continues its spread across southern California and the country, many local businesses and organizations have begun to cancel activities or increased safety precautions to protect the public from the disease, which at this time has no cure.

Many of the cancellations came Thursday, March 12, after Gov. Gavin Newsom, late Wednesday, March 11, advised issued sweeping, statewide “guidance” in response to the coronavirus pandemic, asking Californians to postpone all nonessential gatherings through the end of March, including even small social gatherings in places where people can’t remain at least 6 feet apart.

A California Department of Public Health advisory issued shortly before midnight Wednesday, also says gatherings of 250 people or more should be postponed or canceled, and gatherings of people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people.

Riverside County public health officer orders large events canceled

Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser ordered the cancellation of public gatherings of 250 people or more in Riverside County as a means of slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) Thursday, March 12.

The order mirrors recommendations issued Wednesday evening by the California Department of Public Health.

“These restrictions may seem harsh, given the relatively low number of coronavirus cases in Riverside County, but they are necessary if we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Kaiser, who Sunday, March 8, declared a public health emergency after announcing the county’s first locally acquired COVID-19 case.

Kaiser clarified in a tweet on Saturday, March 14, that the ban on events with more than 250 people includes religious services at houses of worship.

At Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District (RivCoParks) the fourth Annual Youth Fishing Clinic scheduled for March 14, at Lake Skinner Recreation Area, Duck Daze scheduled for April 11, at Hidden Valley Nature Center and the Healthy Living Extravaganza scheduled for April 18, at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park have all been canceled.

Other large gatherings at all RivCoPark sites will also be canceled thru April 30. RivCoPark sites include Hurkey Creek Park (Mountain Center), Idyllwild Park (Idyllwild), Lake Cahuilla Veterans Regional Park (LaQuinta), Lake Skinner Recreation Area (Winchester), Mayflower Regional Park (Blythe), McCall Memorial Equestrian Campground (Mountain Center) and Rancho Jurupa Regional Park (Jurupa Valley).

“We are uncertain at this time if or when these events might be rescheduled,” an emailed statement from RivCoParks said. “We urge residents to heed the advice of our public health officials and model best health practices such as washing your hands frequently and staying at home if you are sick.”

City postponements and cancellations

Murrieta:

The city of Murrieta has canceled its Coffee with the City scheduled for March 24, and is advising residents to check its Facebook page as well as the city website to stay updated on the latest news of cancellations and postponements.

“Watch for postponements of some city events over the next few weeks as the city and some of its partners follow the CDC’s recommendation to limit nonessential public gatherings,” Murrieta said in a social media posting.

Murrieta has also postponed the Murrieta Citizens Academy classes on both March 12 and March 26, the 73rd Annual Murrieta Firefighters BBQ scheduled for April 19 and is postponing the B Street Station ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for March 18.

Lake Elsinore:

The city of Lake Elsinore announced the cancellation of events some of which could be rescheduled for a later date. On the cancellation list is the Amazing Outlet Race – Saturday, March 21, Lake Elsinore Car Cruise – Saturday, April 4, Eggapalooza – Saturday, April 11, Unity in the Community 5k/10k Race – April 18, and Clean Extreme 2020: Downtown LE – Saturday, April 25.

In addition, the city is notifying all promoters and applicants who are planning privately held events in the city about Riverside County’s guidance for their consideration.

Lake Elsinore facilities including city parks, the Dream Extreme Neighborhood Center, Lake Community Center and the Lake Elsinore Senior Center remain open at this time.

Lake Elsinore staff will continue increased sanitation and hygiene protocols and will be closely monitoring all participants. Any attendee at a city facility that is exhibiting symptoms of sickness will be required to leave and advised that they should return home.

Menifee:

The city of Menifee continues to monitor the outbreak in coordination with the Riverside County Department of Public Health, the CDC and local and regional public health and health care agencies.

“The city of Menifee has developed an Emergency Operations Activation Level Plan, as a
response to good public health policy, which consists of a four-phase plan to coordinate
COVID-19 response activities by the City based on the orders received from the
Riverside County Department of Public Health’s postponing public gatherings of 250
people or more,” the city said in a statement

Due to the risk and orders issued by the county, Menifee will postpone its March 28 Multicultural Festival, its April 4 Music and Arts Festival and its April 11 Spring Fest and Centennial Park Grand Opening.

The city announced on Friday, March 12 that Audie Murphy Skate Park, 30376 Lone Pine Road, will be closed until April 14.

Also on Friday, the city announced that all senior center, Lazy Creek Center and contract classes, programs, and activities will be canceled and closed until April 14. For all seniors who are dependent on meals at the senior center, an opportunity will be provided for meal pick-up for the day or the week starting Monday, March 16 from noon to 2 p.m. at 29995 Evans Road in Menifee.

The following day, the city announced it would cancel meetings for community services commissions and committees until April 14.

Temecula:

The city of Temecula announced late Thursday that several city-sponsored events will be canceled and that every effort would be made to reschedule them if possible.

Affected are the Second Saturday event Saturday, March 14, and the Temecula Valley Symphony youth concert at the Temecula CRC Amphitheater scheduled for Sunday, March 15. World Down Syndrome Awareness Day March 21, Autism Awareness April 2, Teen Egg Hunt April 3, First Friday, April 4, Easter Egg Hunts April 11, Second Saturday, April 11, and the Temecula Special Games April 18 are all canceled or postponed.

All Old Town Temecula Community Theater’s main stage performances will be canceled through April 30.

On Friday, the city also announced it would close all community services facilities and cancel all related rentals, contract classes, programs and events through April 5. Staff would contact affected participants regarding applicable refunds.

“The City will continue to monitor this situation closely (and) will revise the order as required in order to best safeguard public health,” the city said in a tweet.

Ronald H. Roberts Temecula Public Library will remain open to the public. Check www.temeculaca.gov/Library for a list of events that may be canceled in the coming days.

Wildomar:

The city of Wildomar on Friday, March 13 announced that several upcoming events will be canceled in order to adhere to orders from the State of California and recommendations by the CDC.

“To our residents, business partners and community members at large,” Mayor Dustin Nigg said in a press release. “As you’re reading the guidelines and plans, we are implementing for the remainder of March and through April 2020 please know that we are implementing this approach out of an abundance of caution. I recognize that some may think that we’re not going far enough while others might think we are going too far. I ask all to understand that the current environment created by COVID-19 is still evolving and very much fluid. We feel our approach will allow us to continue serving our community in a responsible way during these times. If the current environment changes for the worse, we will assess and adjust accordingly. As a reminder, please be judicious of your symptoms — If you’re not feeling well, avoid going to places where you may get someone else sick. Individual responsibility will go a long way with helping us all get through this.”

The release indicated that the city would be canceling special events planned for March and April with an estimated attendance above 250 individuals per order of the health officer of the County of Riverside.

Included in the cancellations are the Eggstravaganza Egg Hunt on April 4, the Teen Egg Hunt, and Health Fair/ALS Run on April 18 at Marna O’Brien Park. Rescheduling of cancelled events will be determined at a later date.

The city will continue to host regularly scheduled public meetings, including city council and planning commission meetings are video streamed and available on cable television for viewing. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of these features. Seating in the Council Chambers may be limited in order to accommodate the recommended social distancing seating procedure. Other locations in city hall will be available for viewing the meeting on TV should the chambers room reach occupancy limits. Public comments
will be accommodated from all city hall room locations.

The city has asked the community to conduct business with the city by way of telephone or internet technology. If a personal visit to City Hall is essential, appointment scheduling will assure the most efficient means of service.

Normal operating hours will continue at the Wildomar Cemetery.

There are no cancellations or postponements from the cities of Hemet and San Jacinto at the time of this posting.

Valley News recommends that anyone planning on attending any meeting or event checks with organizers to ensure the event will still be held.

Kim Harris can be reached at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.

Will Fritz, Jeff Pack and City News Service contributed to this report.