6 Rules for a Safe, Socially-Distanced, and Fun Gathering This Summer


That day we all dreamed of has come. With states lifting the most restrictive stay-at-home rules created by efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19, you can finally plan to see your friends again, in person.

And the good news is that summer, with its friendly outdoor temperatures, is just the right season for socially distanced outdoor parties. Here’s what the experts say about how to have fun while keeping you and your guests safe.

1. Choose your crowd

Depending on your state, there will be different requirements for the appropriate number of people who can attend a single gathering. Know what that is! Invite family or close friends whom you know well and have a sense of how big their circle has been, says Michael Bauer, MD, medical director of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Lake Forest, Illinois. (No need to go so far as to take everyone’s temperature at the door, he says, but generally know where they stand.)

2. Keep it outside

Now that summer is (essentially) here, you’ll be spending a lot of your time outdoors. And being in the open air is a good thing, as it’s easy to keep that necessary physical distance—six feet—when hanging out with friends in the yard or on a deck or patio in your backyard, says Bauer.

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3. Plan the menu

One of the ways the virus can spread is if you touch a contaminated surface and put your hands to your mouth. (The CDC says the coronavirus does not spread easily this way, but it is still possible.) Take the extra precaution and leave messy hand-held foods out of your BBQ. “Now is not the time for finger-licking food,” says Bauer. Eat foods using fork and knife—even foods you might not normally eat this way, like pizza.

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4. Serve it right

Speaking of utensils, don’t share them. “Put food out on a table and have guests take their portions using their own silverware,” says Bauer.

5. Check in ahead

If you’re going to someone else’s house, make sure it’s someone whom you trust to prepare food for the group. Or, order in from a local restaurant for no-contact delivery. 

6. Wash your hands (still!)

Nature will call and you’ll have to go to the bathroom. Put on your mask (to protect others who may be in the house), then do your duty, and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, says Bauer. As long as you wash properly, “there’s virtually no risk in walking into someone’s house to use the bathroom,” he says.

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