What to Consider When Choosing to Gather

As our community continues to re-open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a return to “normal” social gatherings may be on your mind. If you're considering attending a group gathering, make sure that you’re getting all of the information required to make an informed decision.

Remember that many of the same safety precautions (face masks, social distancing, practicing good hand hygiene) are still in place to protect our communities.

Know the Risks

No public gathering is risk-free during the Coronavirus pandemic. When deciding whether to attend a social activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you may want to consider things like:

  • Group size: The larger the gathering, the greater the potential risk. Make sure that you are comfortable with the size of the event, and if possible, find out where other attendees may be traveling from.
  • Location: It's safer to gather outdoors. Social distancing is more easily accomplished outside, and the ventilation is better. Also, staying within your community with other people from the same area is less risky than traveling.
  • Length: The more time you spend around others, the greater the risk.
  • Transportation: It can be difficult to safely distance yourself from others on public transportation, as can knowing that disinfecting procedures are being followed. If possible, consider favoring other ways of getting to your event, such as walking, biking, or driving with your immediate family.
  • Your Risk: If you or someone you live with is older or has underlying health problems that puts them at risk for severe COVID-19 complications, gathering could be especially risky.
  • Local Virus Activity: How active is the virus is in your area? The higher the activity level, the more risk. Look into what your local health authorities are saying, and follow local rules for gathering safely.

Take Precautions

If you do decide to attend or host a gathering, take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • If you're sick, stay home. It's important to avoid all crowds if you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Know how the event will be set up. Before you go, ask what COVID-19 precautions the hosts will take.
  • Meet outdoors, such as in a park. Suggest having the event outside to reduce the risk. If you must gather indoors, open a window and follow COVID-19 prevention practices, such as maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand hygiene (avoid touching your face as well).
  • Make room for social distancing. Help arrange tables, chairs, and other furniture so it's easier to stay six feet apart. If you're hosting, post signs that remind people to keep their distance.
  • Wear a cloth face mask. Remind everyone attending to bring a mask as well, since cloth masks are believed to protect those around you more so than the wearer. Remember: You can be sick without symptoms. Wearing a mask helps protect the people you're with. They are helpful in situations where social distancing is difficult, but should not be seen as a replacement for social distancing.
  • Offer activities that allow for social distancing. Think tennis (mark your tennis balls), biking or hiking a trail with a larger path, or kicking a soccer ball around. Try to resist the urge to exchange handshakes or hugs.
  • Have one person serve food and drinks. That way, only one set of hands will touch the serving utensils. Better yet, make it a BYO gathering.
  • Clean your hands often. Use soap and warm water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol — especially when arriving or leaving a gathering, before eating, and again when you get home.
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