Summer is in full swing, and with summer sun comes the urge to get outside and enjoy the day with your friends and family. However, this year summer will look a little different.
As areas across the country begin to open up, if you are hoping to host your summer BBQ or want to catch up with your friends, there are some guidelines you should follow to ensure that everyone has fun and stays safe.
Provided you are adhering to your area’s restrictions, there are some simple–but–important ways that you can safely host a summer party while social distancing.
Keep Your Summer Party or Gathering Small:
A small gathering with close friends, neighbors or extended family can be acceptable (depending on your local area’s protection measures, of course) as long as you are cautious. Naturally, have any attendees who are feeling unwell, have traveled in the last 2 weeks, or have been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 stay home. Remind your guests in the week prior to your summer party and the day-of just to ensure that everyone gets the message.
Keep in-person gatherings small, don’t share objects, and wear face coverings. Remember, risk increases as people of other communities begin to congregate. When in doubt, check the CDC for information and guidelines regarding gatherings. You can find these guidelines under “Consideration for Events and Gatherings” on their website.
Make Sure You Host Outdoors:
Staying outside in a large backyard will allow you to ensure the presence of fresh air and maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet. Remember, there is nothing magical about the 6 feet rule, the further you are away from others, the less likely you are to transfer germs or sickness. To that end, keep tables and chairs at least 6 feet apart and opt to wear masks when you are not eating.
Separate Everyone’s Food:
Depending on the risk to your local area, you can have guests bring their own food, utensils, and dishes. This will eliminate the need for guests to congregate around a buffet (reducing social distancing) and requiring that attendees touch the same items.
If you would like to serve food to your guests, avoid a buffet-style setup. Instead, have a designated server who is following safe food handling practices and is wearing a mask serve food to your guests at their socially distanced locations. Have this same person in charge of bringing plates, napkins, and utensils. It can be a good idea to use recyclable or disposable items so guests can take care of placing their used items in the proper receptacles.
Plan for Bathroom Breaks:
Realistically, restrooms will be necessary for attendees to have access to use. If you and guests are gathering for a short period of time, you can request that guests attempt to use restrooms elsewhere, but should prepare regardless. If attendees will be in your home to use your restroom, keep the path clear and any doors that can (reasonably) be open, opened. This will eliminate additional high-touch areas of contact. Within the restroom, ensure that you have ample soap and water as well as disposable paper towels that can be used to touch high-touch areas like handles and faucets once hands have been cleaned.
Provide Socially Distant Entertainment Options:
While all your traditional games may not be appropriate for the current climate, there are still some ways you and your friends and family can enjoy each other while maintaining a safe distance. For any games that require attendees to touch the items, ensure that hand sanitizer is available.
Guests should use sanitizer or wash their hands before and after playing. Any game objects that can be themselves sanitized should be periodically or between players. Many games can be modified to accommodate social distancing guidelines, don’t be afraid to get creative. Remember that everyone is likely feeling a little stir-crazy and has been in need of community, so your attendees will likely simply be happy to participate, regardless of your choice of entertainment.
Some excellent outdoor games for social distancing include:
- Ladder Ball
- Bocce ball
- Ping Pong
- Disc Golf
Safety is key, and if at any point during the planning process you feel that the situation is higher-risk than ideal, don’t be afraid to take a step back. Ensuring a heightened awareness of any changes to your local area’s risk is vital. In the time leading up to your gathering, be sure to keep a close watch on local reported COVID-19 cases, and on any additional restrictions that may be in place as a result. Remember, postponing a gathering or switching to a virtual gathering can be the best option to keep everyone safe.