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What to consider when choosing to gather

A group of people wearing face masks. Illustration.

As communities navigate reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, mingling may be on your mind. But if you're thinking about going to a group gathering, what should you consider?

Know the risks

No public gathering is risk-free during the coronavirus pandemic. When deciding whether to attend a social activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you may want to consider things like:

Group size. The larger the gathering, the greater the potential risk.

Location. It's safer to gather outdoors because maintaining social distancing is easier and the ventilation is better. Also, staying within your community, with other people from the same area, is less risky than traveling.

How you'll get there. It can be difficult to safely distance on public transportation. So favor other ways of getting to your event, like walking, biking or driving with your immediate family.

How long the gathering will last. The more time you spend around others, the greater the risk.

Your risk for severe COVID-19 complications. If you or someone you live with is older or has underlying health problems, gathering could be especially risky.

How active the virus is in your area. The higher the activity level, the more risk. Look into what your local health authorities are saying, and follow local rules for gathering safely.

Take precautions

If you decide to attend or host a gathering, take steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus:

If you're sick, stay home. It's important to avoid crowds if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have had close contact with a person who has COVID-19.

Be in the know. Before you go, ask what COVID-19 precautions the hosts will take.

Meet outdoors, such as in a park. If you must gather indoors, open a window and follow other COVID-19 prevention practices.

Make room for social distancing. Arrange tables, chairs or other furniture so it's easier to stay 6 feet apart. If you're hosting, post signs that remind people to keep their distance.

Wear a cloth face mask. And remind everyone attending to bring theirs. Remember: You can have the virus without symptoms. Wearing a mask helps protect the people you're with, but it's not a substitute for physical distancing.

Have one person serve food and drinks. That way, only one set of hands will touch the serving utensils. Better yet, make it a BYO gathering.

Offer activities that allow for social distancing. Think Frisbee, catch or sidewalk chalk art. And resist the urge to exchange handshakes or hugs.

Clean your hands often. Use soap and water or a hand sanitizer—especially when arriving or leaving a gathering, before eating, and again when you get home.

Learn more ways to stop the spread in our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 10/19/2020

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