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How to Safely See Family and Friends This Summer

How to Safely See Family and Friends This Summer

Like many Americans, you’re probably looking forward to spending time with family and friends as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed or lifted. But even though the loosening of restrictions is a positive sign that things are heading in the right direction, the pandemic is not yet over. So when you’re planning a gathering with more than your immediate family, it’s still important to take a few precautions to keep everyone safer.

If everyone getting together has been fully vaccinated (at least two weeks after receiving both doses of a two-dose vaccine or a single-dose vaccine), you’ll have more options for summer gatherings. You can get together indoors or out without the need for masks or social distancing. As long as both parties have been vaccinated, you’ll also be able to share long-awaited hugs with one another. But if there are people in attendance who are not yet vaccinated, it’s still a good idea to wear masks, stay outdoors and keep your distance.

Despite the fact that you can now see friends and family who have been sorely missed, it’s still important to do what you can to keep everyone as safe as possible until enough of the population is fully vaccinated so that COVID-19 is no longer a major health threat.

Here are some tips to do so:

  • Plan outdoor gatherings whenever possible instead of getting together indoors.
  • Keep get-togethers to a limited number of people, especially if anyone attending is high-risk or hasn’t been vaccinated.
  • Provide for extra space between guests at the table. Space out chairs or blankets.
  • Organize activities that allow people to social distance, such as badminton, volleyball, cornhole and horseshoes.
  • Ask permission before hugging anyone, particularly older or high-risk people. If in doubt, skip the hugs and limit greetings to smiles, waves or elbow bumps.

If food is being served at your gathering, consider following these safety measures:

  • Skip buffet-style serving. Not only do people tend to congregate as they fill their plates, but they can also spread germs as they breathe or cough over food or share serving utensils.
  • Also consider ditching the potluck and having one person provide all the food. Another option is to ask guests to bring their own food for their family.
  • Appoint one person to ladle food onto plates or prepare individual servings ahead of time.
  • Set up a hand washing station for guests to use before eating or make hand sanitizer available.
  • Offer single-serve drinks, condiments, snacks and desserts.
  • Use disposable plates, cups and silverware.

It’s also a good idea to ask all guests to skip the gathering if they are feeling unwell, even if they’ve been vaccinated. Although vaccines reduce the risk of catching COVID-19, they don’t offer 100% protection. People with minor symptoms (or even those who may have no symptoms) may also infect others at the gathering who may not yet be vaccinated.

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