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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 holiday 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 traditional holiday 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 safe to get together, if we all get tested before?

If no one has any symptoms, having everyone get tested before you get together will reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading. However, there is still risk because you can have COVID-19 without having symptoms. Also keep in mind that you could test negative one day, but if you don’t quarantine immediately, you could be infected the next day without realizing it.

Is it safe to gather if everyone can quarantine for 2 weeks before we get together?

If your group is able to truly quarantine (stay home, without any contact with others) for 14 days, this may lower the risk of spreading the infection. However, having everyone quarantine perfectly is very difficult to pull off.  Any time you or your guests venture outside the home, even to a neighborhood park, they may come in contact with infected people or surfaces. 

Is it OK to do a potluck?

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 safest 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.

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 six feet 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? 2) is there room to space everyone 6 feet 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.

Why is it safe in my county to go to a bar and restaurant but not to gather with people I know in my home?

While bars and restaurants are required to have strict sanitization and physical distancing measures in place, at-home gatherings aren’t regulated that way. Friends and family who are comfortable around each other may be more likely to forego face coverings or ignore the six-foot rule.