It’s hard to stay home and not see your loved ones, especially during the holiday season. But it’s important to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over. People are still getting sick, being hospitalized and dying from this virus.
If you host or attend a gathering during this time, it’s critical to take lots of extra precautions.
Here are some tips to help keep everyone safe.
Plan the guest list wisely
Now isn’t the time to invite everyone you know over. Keep all guest lists as small as possible. Also, remind guests to stay home if they don’t feel well or think they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Keep a list of guests. If someone does come down with the virus, you’ll be able to assist with contact tracing and let other guests know they’ve been exposed. If you’re thinking of attending a gathering, don’t go if you don’t know what the other guests have been up to.
Community regulations about gatherings are currently changing as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. So, before you host or attend a gathering, make sure it does not conflict with your local government’s guidance.
Provide masks, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer
Party favors may look a little different during a pandemic. Provide your guests with face masks to wear, except while actively eating or drinking. Hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies should also be on hand. If you’re a guest at a gathering, bring extra masks and supplies for people who may not have them.
Make social distancing easy for guests
Practicing social distancing is critical, even with the people you know and love. This means staying at least six feet apart from people who aren’t part of your household.
COVID-19 can spread outdoors but is less likely to do so, according to studies thus far. So, if you can, host or attend a gathering outdoors. That’s the safer option. Not only do indoor gatherings provide more space for people to keep their distance, but the air also dilutes the virus particles more quickly outdoors than indoors.
Remind people to greet each other with a smile or air high-five rather than a handshake or hug. Also, have your guests regularly to wash their hands and keep their distance. Consider posting signs around the area to serve as additional reminders.
Make some changes to your bathroom
Guests will need access to soap and warm water. If you can provide hand-washing stations outside your bathroom, do it. If not, you may need to make a few changes in the bathroom.
Remove your cloth towels and replace them with single-use paper towels. Provide cleaning supplies so guests can wipe down toilet handles, light switches, doorknobs and other commonly touched surfaces. Discourage people from lining up at your bathroom door.
Keep food safe
Consider not serving food at all or having guests bring their own food and drinks from home.
If you do decide to serve food, don’t offer a buffet this time around. And if you attend a party with a buffet, don’t eat the food. During the pandemic, hosts should have one person serve the food. If you’re cooking or grilling, don’t let guests hang out near the grill or in the kitchen.
When it comes to items like condiments, buy single-serve packets. The same advice goes for any pre-packed food items, like chips. Also consider buying disposable utensils, plates and cups. As for drinks, provide a cooler full of bottles and cans that are already chilled.
Reconsider even having your gathering
With the second wave of COVID-19 cases upon us, reconsider hosting or attending gatherings outside of your immediate household at this time. This is especially true if you will be inviting people who are at high risk with this virus.
Staying home with your immediate household members is the only way to guarantee everyone’s safety.
Remember, while this is our current reality, it’s only temporary. There are also many tools available, such as phone calls, texting and video chatting, that allow us to stay in touch regularly with our loved ones without having to see them in person.
Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to COVID-19.