Apple ParkSource: Rene Ritchie/iMore

What you need to know

  • Santa Clara County has banned gatherings of over a thousand people.
  • The ban will be effective for at least three weeks.
  • The news could be a further sign that Apple's WWDC conference may not go ahead in its traditional format.

Santa Clara's Public Health Department has banned mass gatherings of more than a thousand people, in the clearest sign yet that Apple's WWDC conference may not be able to go ahead in its traditional format.

As reported by AppleInsider, a new directive was issued by Santa Clara County Public Health in the early hours of March 10.

The directive states:

COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA ISSUES ORDER TO CANCEL MASS GATHERINGS DUE TO INCREASING RATES OF COVID-19 SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA — In light of significantly increasing rates of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, the County's Public Health Department is taking further steps to protect the health of our community.

Today, the Public Health Department is announcing a mandatory order issued by the Public Health Officer requiring the cancellation of mass gatherings in the County. This order will take effect at 12:00 a.m. on March 11, 2020 and will remain in place for three weeks as more wi​despread testing becomes available and we are able to learn more about the spread of COVID-19. We are also announcing new, stronger guidance for the general public and for many specific groups designed to reduce the spread of the virus in our community.

Dr. Sara Cody, a Santa Clara County Health Officer said:

This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County. The strong measures we are taking today are designed to slow the spread of disease... Today's order and new recommendations will reduce the number of people who develop severe illness and will help prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. This is critically important for anyone with healthcare needs, not just those most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19."

Whilst the measure will only take effect for three weeks beginning on March 11, the situation remains developing, and the report could confirm previous fears and predictions that Apple's WWDC may not be able to go ahead in its traditional format. Several major tech summits including Microsoft's MVP Summit and Google I/O have already been canceled. Apple's only solace at this stage is that WWDC usually takes place in June, so Apple still has plenty of time to announce the event or any changes to its previous plans for the conference.

Here's an in-depth look at the prospect of Apple canceling the physical portion of WWDC.