Gathering together during a pandemic


During a pandemic, there don’t seem to be many activities to indulge in during the quarantine. Although there are still things you can do, most force you to run a higher risk of contracting the virus. The CDC recommends not gathering with people you do not already share housing with and instead of hosting gatherings in person, perhaps host zoom meetings or google meets to visit relatives. 

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread. Your household is anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit (such as your house or apartment). This can include family members, as well as roommates or people who are unrelated to you. People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.

This allows you a lower risk of contracting the virus and will help keep your loved ones safe as well. When gatherings are unavoidable for you, consider keeping them in outdoor areas or in places with plenty of ventilation and space to move about. Attendees and hosts should quarantine themselves beforehand, making sure they won’t be unintentionally giving others the virus. 

Below are some general considerations for hosting a gathering that brings together people from different households. Guests should be aware of these considerations and ask their host what mitigation measures will be in place during the gathering. Hosts should consider the following:

  • Check the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where attendees live on state, local, territorial, or tribal health department websites or on CDC’s COVID Data Tracker County View. Based on the current status of the pandemic, consider if it is safe to hold or attend the gathering on the proposed date.
  • Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
  • Host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible. Even outdoors, require guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
  • Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.

All these guidelines can assist you in having a safe gathering this year, preferably without sickness where possible. 

All quotes credited to: CDC