After months of isolation, many of us are craving in-person visits with our friends and family members. And with some lockdown restrictions being eased, more people may want to hold such get-togethers.
Here are my tips for hosting summer gatherings as safely as possible:
1. Stay outside, at least six feet apart. It’s harder to transmit coronavirus outdoors than indoors, so outside is generally safer — whether in your backyard, driveway, or a park. It’s also tougher to spread the virus if you remain six feet away from those who don’t live with you.
Set up separate areas with chairs and tables for you and your guest(s), to ensure you remain far enough apart. For instance, you could sit on opposite sides of a fire pit.
Avoid having people walk through the house to get to the backyard, deck, or patio.
2. Ask everyone to bring masks. Have people put on a mask if they must come within six feet of someone not in their household, or if they must go inside. Guests should go indoors only to use the bathroom. (Children younger than age 2 should not wear masks.)
3. Keep it small. Ideally, limit your guest list to one or two people. That way, you’ll minimize the likelihood of a guest having or contracting COVID-19. With fewer guests, it’s also easier for everyone to remain six feet apart.
4. Be consistent. Limit the number of people you socialize with by committing to a “pod” of one or two people or one other family. Don’t invite over a different set of people every night.
5. Choose guests wisely. Make sure anyone you socialize with is taking the coronavirus seriously and following the government’s safety guidelines. That includes practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and cleaning hands frequently.
6. Watch the kids. Limit the number of child guests, and make sure children play at least six feet apart from each other.
7) Take precautions with food. Ask people to bring their own food and drinks in a cooler. Don’t serve communal foods such as chips and dip, and don’t have a buffet. If you decide to barbecue, ask people to bring their own condiments, or provide individual packets.
8. Serve with care. Provide disposable plates and cutlery. Set the tables in advance, or space out items so people can pick them up individually.
9. Focus on the bathroom. Stock the bathroom with disinfecting wipes so everyone can wipe down the surfaces they touch — including the toilet handle, faucets, doorknob, and light switch — before rejoining the gathering. Place a sign on the door or in the room to remind everyone to take these steps. Provide paper towels instead of cloth hand towels. And after the gathering, sanitize the entire bathroom.
10. Play safely. Choose games and activities that allow people to stay apart, such as tossing a ball or Frisbee. Similarly, stay six feet apart when swimming or playing games in a pool. Make sure everyone sanitizes hands both before and after these activities.
11. Have a rain plan. If the weather turns bad, don’t move the party indoors. Either end the gathering or move it under a tent, car port, or other open-air shelter where you can stay at least six feet apart. Inform your guests of the plan in advance.