Getting together in groups—even with people we know—may spread COVID-19. The more people we interact with at a get-together and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the risk of catching the virus.

The safest option, especially if you’re in a high-risk category for severe illness from COVID-19, is to avoid in-person get-togethers and find different ways to celebrate. Today there are many more options than ever to get together virtually, so consider those, but if you must see folks in-person use this checklist to make it safer.  

If You Get Together: A Safety Checklist

If you decide to get together, there’s always a risk of spreading COVID-19 even if everyone is using a mask and keeping distance. These measures are like a seatbelt, they keep you safer but can’t completely prevent you from getting hurt in an accident. This checklist will help you make the best decisions for your get together.

Before you Get Together

  • Have “The Conversation.”  Get on the same page with friends and family about how safety will be a priority when spending time together. Set ground rules that will help everyone know what to expect. Click Here for tips on how to have “The Conversation”
  • Review your guest list. Are there people who may be in a high-risk category or children? Think about special needs and precautions as part of your planning. And offer alternatives to those that are in a high-risk category. 
  • Check your space and gather outside if possible. Is there room to spread out, at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with? If no, is there an outdoor space, like a park where you could meet? If outside, will there be restrooms people can use? If inside, be sure your space can be well ventilated by opening windows and doors. 
  • Right-size your guest list. Limit the number of guests based on the outdoor or indoor space available that allows you to be 6-feet apart.
  • Do a health check. Ask if anyone has been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Ask if anyone had symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or loss of smell or taste in the last 2 weeks. Ask guests to check their temperature before arriving. Anyone with a fever (100 or higher), or has had symptoms, or knows they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last two weeks—should stay home.
  • Consider the children. Kids have trouble playing 6 feet apart, so wearing masks and frequent hand-washing may be the safest plan of action. Kids under 2 should not wear masks.
  • Make a food plan. Decide if and how food will be shared. The safest option is to not share food. If sharing, separate food ahead of time into individual servings and don’t use shared serving plates and utensils.
  • Clean, clean, clean. If you’re hosting, frequently disinfect surfaces that people may encounter during their visit like counters, tables, chairs, doorknobs, light switches, etc 
  • Consider pre-event quarantine. Can all participants (including yourself) self-quarantine for 14 days before the gathering? To do this effectively, everyone must stay home and avoid others they don’t live with completely for 14 days. This includes not having others over to their home, not going to their workplace, not going out to run errands, etc.
  • Consider traveling guests. If guests need to travel and are staying in your house consider a 14-day quarantine for your guests and your household before having contact with anyone else. 

While you get together 

  • Keep a record. Create a list of attendees and include phone numbers and emails, this will make getting in touch with people easier in case there is a positive case at your get together. 
  • Wash early and often. Ask everyone to wash their hands for 20 seconds or at least use hand sanitizer on arrival, before and after eating, and before they leave.
  • Gather outdoors if at all possible. If indoors, open windows and doors to increase ventilation.
  • Mask up. Wear a face covering at all times when not eating (also don’t talk and eat, your mom taught you better). Consider having extra masks on hand if people forget.
  • Separate servings. Avoid communal food and sharing utensils, even with babies and young children. Don’t share drinks or other personal items like phones, cigarettes, vapes, or bongs.
  • Avoid close contact. Smiles and elbow bumps only, and prepare kids ahead of time to do the same.

After you get together

  • Wash hands (again). Wash for 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Sanitize. Clean all surfaces that may have been touched by guests such as tabletops, counters, doorknobs, and bathroom fixtures with a disinfecting cleaner. Typical household cleaners work well to kill the virus.
  • Watch for symptoms. Monitor for symptoms up to 14 days after the end of your get together. Even mild symptoms should be suspected for COVID-19, get tested and seek medical advice from your doctor if you don't feel well. 
  • Work with public health. Alert others at the get together if there’s a positive test among anyone in attendance. Work with public health contact tracers to provide guest and event details so everyone can get the resources they need.