Submitted by Washington State Department of Health
If your county is in Phase 3, physically distanced gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed. If your county is in Phase 2, physically distanced gatherings of up to five people outside your household are allowed. Just because these gatherings are allowed doesn’t mean they are safe for you. Your home, away from people outside your immediate household, remains the safest place for you to be.
Here is a shortlist of things to remember when it comes to gathering together in the time of COVID-19:
• Outside is safer than inside.
• Small groups are safer than large groups.
• Less time together is safer than more time together.
• Within 6 feet, face coverings are better than no face coverings.
So, while a Zoom happy hour might be your safest choice, an outdoor barbecue with one other family, with the chairs set up 6 feet apart, where the hand sanitizer flows freely, and everyone goes home early, is a less risky option, as far as these things go.
Keep your friends and family healthy
Don’t go if you’re sick!
This may be your first opportunity to hang out with your friends in a while, but it isn’t your last, so if you feel sick at all — even just a little questionable — reschedule. We have weeks and weeks of sun ahead of us. If you still have a bit of a cough or other symptoms that might be related to COVID-19 the next day, call your health care provider or local health department to get tested.
Keep your distance
The need to stay six feet apart will be with us through at least Phase 4, so you may as well set up your yard or gathering place to accommodate it. Arrange the chairs so they are at least six feet apart. Consider outdoor games and activities for the kids that don’t involve wrestling or blowing bubbles into each other’s faces. You generally don’t have to touch each other when you are jumping rope, playing catch, doing a bean bag toss, or using sidewalk chalk.
Do the COVID-19 foot shake
Think of creative ways to greet your friends and say goodbye that don’t involve close contact. Maybe an “air hug”? Or try a great big smile and an enthusiastic, “I’m not touching you, but I’m so glad to see you!”
No communal food or drinks
Part of the joy of a potluck is sharing everyone’s cooking, but remember to share and taste while keeping your germs to yourself! Make sure everyone uses their own cup and dishes and uses utensils to grab some chips. Don’t share drinks, plates, or utensils. And when in doubt, go wash your hands again.
Wash, wash, wash your hands
And, of course, everyone needs to wash their hands for 20 seconds when they arrive, before they eat, and just before they leave. Keep hand sanitizer readily available and use it any time you have been touching shared hard surfaces and before touching your face.
Time with friends and family is precious and important for our physical and mental health. Enjoy it. And protect each other by keeping your distance, wearing a cloth face-covering indoors, and keeping your hands clean.
Information changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.
Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus. You can also contact the DOH call center, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week at 1–800–525–0127.