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Turlock announces Christmas Parade plans. How are viewing areas a COVID-19 measure?

The Modesto Bee logoThe Modesto Bee 10/25/2021 Kristin Lam, The Modesto Bee

Oct. 25—Turlock plans to resume its Downtown Christmas Parade tradition on Dec. 3, the city announced Thursday, with more COVID-19 safety recommendations than requirements.

The city will not verify COVID-19 vaccination status or negative test results for attendees, which California public health recommends but does not require for such events, said Allison Van Guilder, director of the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department.

"The choice for the city was whether to have the parade without collecting the recommended proof of status or not having the parade at all," Van Guilder said in an email. "Turlock citizens want the parade and so the city will rely on attendees themselves to ensure they are fully vaccinated or have had a negative test. The city strongly recommends that persons concerned about the health status of parade attendees not attend the parade."

Collecting COVID-19 documentation at the parade is not feasible, Van Guilder added. The city also does not plan to require masks because current guidance does not mandate the precaution. But anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not attend the parade, the city said in a press release Thursday.

To limit crowding in any one area along the parade route, Van Guilder said the city designated four viewing areas along Main Street and Broadway Avenue. The boundaries are designed to reduce potential coronavirus transmission.

Turlock will not issue citations to enforce the viewing area boundaries, but she said the city will encourage people to stay in the viewing area they choose. Attendees cannot stand in the intersections that create breaks between the areas, she added.

The event qualifies as a mega event with at least 10,000 people outdoors under California Department of Public Health guidance. The viewing areas do not prevent its classification as a mega event, Van Guilder said.

Current guidance for mega events lasts through Nov. 1 and the state said it will assess the need for measures thereafter. Turlock Christmas Parade plans may change depending on both state and Stanislaus County public health, the city said in the press release.

"We are pleased that the parade can be held under current conditions, and we will rely on the cooperation of parade attendees to have an orderly event in these uncertain times," Acting City Manager Dan Madden said in the release. "The annual downtown Christmas parade is a cherished holiday tradition in our city that is beloved by many."

The Turlock Downtown Christmas Parade is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, Van Guilder said. The recreation department plans to post information on social media about float applications and deadlines early next week. Neither vendors nor distributing candy or flyers will be allowed at the parade, per the release.

This story was originally published October 25, 2021 5:00 AM.

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