What Should Group Gatherings Look Like Now? Experts Weigh In

June 7, 2020

    As states across the country continue on their paths of phased reopenings, many are left wondering what their group gatherings can look like now or if they can even happen at all.

    At the end of last month, New York and New Jersey governors issued orders allowing for gatherings of 10 people or less while parts of Washington state are allowing for groups of 5 people or less to meet, Today reports.

    And while state rules are saying it's okay for small groups of people to gather, that doesn't mean you shouldn't still proceed with caution. Dr. Thomas Murray, infectious disease pediatrician at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, is weighing in on the matter.

    "We're getting to a point now where there are substantial benefits from socialization and getting out and spending time with people," he said. However, there are still measures you should take to "mitigate the risk of infection."

    Start small

    While it's enticing to start gathering all of your friends and hanging out in enclosed spaces at whim, it's important to keep your circles small. Stick to close friends and family at first.

    Dr. Derek Chu, clinical scholar of medicine at McMaster University, says, "Certainly the more people you com into contact with, the higher risk of transmission. That risk has to be balanced with the benefit of those different groups that you're meeting with."

    Follow basic guidelines

    It may be tempting to throw a dinner party with the coronavirus social distancing guidelines becoming more relaxed, but you may want to opt for more open spaces at first.

    • Keep your social hours outside, and allow for proper airflow if you have to be indoors.
    • Continue to wear your masks.
    • Practice good hygiene and continue to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
    • Maintain 6 feet of distance as much as possible.

    Set expectations

    Contact the people you plan to meet with ahead of time to gauge how everyone has been isolating and see if anyone has been exposed to potential infection. To be safe, make sure the people you're congregating with are people you'd feel comfortable contacting should you contract the virus after spending time together.

    Be careful with children and high-risk individuals

    According to Murray, "That would be the one population I would think carefully about. Do that risk-benefit assessment before bringing them into a larger group because you really want to keep them safe."

    Again, Murray stressed the importance of being outside when you can, especially if there are high-risk individuals and young children involved. While children over 2 should be wearing masks, it is hard to get them to successfully do so.

    Try to keep kids from sharing toys as much as you can, and wipe them down frequently.

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