Make summer get-togethers fun and safe during COVID-19
Helpful tips from Dr. Amy Khan, executive medical director at Regence
For many people, July and August usually mean social events like barbecues, leisurely get-togethers, family reunions and weddings. But this summer falls during a most unusual time. We all want to enjoy our favorite summer activities—and we still can in most cases, as long as we’re flexible and plan ahead for everyone’s safety.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work, shop and play. To keep our communities safe and get back to the business of living amidst a pandemic, we must change our behaviors. With some careful consideration, we can still celebrate, socialize and have fun together while staying safe from COVID-19 infection.
Consider your options
Why not a virtual event? This is the safest option when COVID-19 cases are high or increasing in your community. Zoom or Facetime celebrations can include people who live far away and protect everyone from an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic guest. This option is much better for family members and friends with chronic health conditions, as well as for those who are over age 65 given the higher risk for more serious illness from COVID-19.
Depending on local guidelines and infection rates, you could also consider safe ways to host an in-person event. Choose an outdoor activity like a backyard barbecue or a bring-your-own picnic at a large park where people can stay at least six feet apart. You can also share your plans for reducing everyone’s potential exposure to the virus. For example, ask people to bring their own face masks and hand sanitizer. Remind anyone who is feeling sick to stay home to protect others.
Be thoughtful about your guest list. For example, this is not the year to invite grandparents or an uncle who is in fragile health. Remember that group size still matters, and each state has different requirements based on the rates of community infection. Smaller events can be just as much fun, so invite fewer people and help your guests practice physical distancing. Consider socializing with a small group on your front porch or patio—six feet apart, of course.
Be a party-planner extraordinaire
Throughout the event, clean frequently touched surfaces and spread seating so that each group has a safe space from which they can visit with others. Place hand sanitizer, tissue boxes and napkins in visible locations. Remind guests to wear face coverings, especially when in close proximity.
Speaking of food, keep it simple. Paper plates and throw-away or recyclable bottles, paper cups and utensils enable safe and easy cleanup after the event. Prepackaged meals picnic-style and to-go orders from local restaurants are great options for enjoying good food together while reducing the potential for spreading the virus among guests.
Make fun times happen!
Plan fun activities where everyone can keep appropriate distance between one another. It’s a great time to rediscover old-fashioned games like Charades, Heads Up or Twenty Questions. How about a dance party spread out on the grass or patio? Mix it up with friendly competition between households but save contact sports for another time. Frisbee or Hot Potato anyone? Don’t forget to wash your hands before and after you play!
Summing it up
We’re making history together during this extraordinary time. Keeping ourselves and others healthy is the top priority, including both COVID-19 precautions as well as staying social as best one can. So, be creative and innovative while planning your summertime fun with family and friends. Enjoy your time together and take a lot of pictures for sharing and enjoying the memories later—and stay safe.
For more information on state-specific guidelines for gatherings and other COVID-19-related information, please visit the links below.