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What does "outside your household" mean?

The term "people outside your household" means anyone you don't live with. This includes close family members you don't currently live with.

Why do we need to limit or change our gatherings if the vaccine is available to everyone 5+?

It’s great news that more and more people are getting vaccinated. But there are still people at risk: people under the age of 5, people who aren’t yet fully vaccinated, and people at high risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Think of it this way: If you’re fully vaccinated, the vaccine protects you from severe COVID-19 illness and death. To protect others, you still need to wear a mask, stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.

How can I say no to a gathering without disrespecting my family?

Saying no is never easy, but there are ways to make it a little easier—both to say and to hear. Start with acknowledging the invite (“Thank you for thinking of me...I will miss you”). Second, keep the “no” short and sweet with no excuses (“No thank you, I don’t feel comfortable with this type of gathering right now”). And finally, if it feels right for the situation, suggest an alternative way to hang out (“could we take a walk just the two of us next week?”).

How can I talk to my family about wanting to downsize or make our gatherings virtual?

Do your best to communicate that your decisions aren’t personal – it’s a precaution taken out of love. Explain that you will miss the gathering and look forward to getting together again in the future. If you like, you can also suggest some online alternatives that everyone can participate in safely – we have a few ideas that might help.

Is it OK to do a potluck?

If you’re all fully vaccinated, small private gatherings are relatively safe. Unvaccinated people should still avoid gatherings with other unvaccinated individuals.

There hasn’t been evidence to show COVID-19 is transmissible through food, however, the social behaviors that accompany potlucks can spread infection. As people gather in close proximity to one another to serve from common dishes, using common utensils, the chance of infection increases. If gathering to eat a meal, it is safer to have people bring their own food or to have the host portion out individual servings for each person so there is no sharing among guests. The safest thing is to not gather during meal times.

Is it safe to prepare food for a group at my home?

While there hasn’t been evidence that COVID-19 is transmissible through food, safe preparation of food is still important to protect others from COVID-19, seasonal flu, and food-borne illness:

  • Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before you start food prep
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces where you will prep food
  • Be careful of cross contamination if using raw meat
  • For an extra layer of protection, wear a mask while you prepare food

If you are having a small gathering, the safest way to include food is to have each person bring their own meal and beverages. And to continue to follow the other guideline of staying 6 feet (2 meters) apart and wearing a mask whenever you’re not eating.

What if I hold my gathering in a garage/yard/patio/deck?

The safety of the place you plan to gather depends on three things. 1) Is it outside or inside? Outside is safer. 2) Is there room to space everyone six feet (2m) apart? 3) Is everyone wearing masks?  Outside is safer than inside but it is not risk-free. If you don’t have enough room for people to spread out, it’s not a place that you should gather.