COVID-19

A transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19 shows spherical viral particles, colorized blue.

Q: What are the current regulations on social gatherings in Texas?

A: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the rules and regulations regarding what people and businesses may do have changed, and the restrictions have often proven confusing for the average person to parse, given the fine print and myriad exceptions.

A lot depends on the kind of event you’re seeking to have, where the event will be and in what kind of place. As a result, determining the specific rules for your upcoming event may require a close reading of the state rules governing the event.

For example, if you are hosting, a ceremony and a reception at a wedding venue, the total number of people attending and participating in the ceremony and reception can’t exceed 50% of the building’s total capacity. That means that if a couple is marrying inside of a venue with a listed capacity of 250 people, there can’t be more than 125 people in the building during the ceremony and subsequent reception.

If the wedding ceremony itself is inside a house of worship, however, there is no occupancy limit.

In either case, wedding guests are required to separate themselves physically and wear masks when physical distancing isn’t possible.

But for a different type of social gathering — for example, a family reunion, the regulations are different. A family reunion in a public park can’t have more than 10 people, unless the gathering is approved by the local mayor or county judge in the city or county where it is to be held. A complete list of the rules depending on facility and event type is available at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/opentexas.aspx.

Although many large gatherings are permissible in Texas depending on the circumstances, public health experts continue to caution that gatherings of groups of people, particularly in indoor spaces, have an increased risk of spreading COVID-19. A wedding in Maine has become a cautionary tale for indoor social events, after the August ceremony and reception has been linked to almost 180 COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.

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