Coronavirus tips: How to have a safer Fourth of July gathering outdoors

Four ways to host a safer Fourth of July gathering for your guests this holiday weekend

coronavirus tips fourth of july
(Image credit: Photo: @frankiefoto on Unsplash)

Independence Day is a time for barbecues, vacation time, and block parties. But given that the country is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be wondering how you can have a safer Fourth of July celebration this year. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, having outdoor gatherings is okay as long as you’re practicing social distancing by keeping six feet apar,t and everyone present is wearing a mask. (Be sure to check your state guidelines for specific rules around the number of guests you can have in attendance, though). 

In addition to this essential step, though, there are a few other ways you can ensure your outdoor get together sparkles safely.  Here are four tips to make that happen.

Create an outdoor sanitizing station

Don't let the fun of a barbecue distract guests from important hygiene practices. One way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to create an outdoor sanitizing station in an obvious spot. Set up a separate table in your backyard area, preferably at a point between the back door of the house and the main area where people will gather. 

While, ideally, people should be washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, if you don't have a way to make handwashing happen outdoors, you can equip this area with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Make sure this station has single use hand towels or paper towels so that guests don’t have to use the same towels to dry their hands, with a waste bin handy so they don’t have to go far to dispose of them.

Limit food prep to a few people

A barbecue is usually an all-hands-on-deck affair, with guests bringing dishes to share and helping man the grill. Food is often served help-yourself buffet-style. These days, however, both of these typical practices are something you want to avoid. Limit the amount of people that will be in the areas where food preparation and handling is taking place, which is around the grill and in the kitchen. 

When it comes to serving food and condiments, get one person to help out by doling them out, rather than have multiple people use the utensils. If you can, consider single use options for condiments. Make sure that you have enough disposable utensils on hand as well as plates and cups. 

Be creative with your patio furniture

If you’re aiming to uphold social distancing measures at your gathering, your patio furniture can go a long way to make that happen. First, do a thorough wipe-down of every piece of patio furniture as well as the grill with disinfectant wipes or a cleaning solution

Then create small groupings of furniture, tables, or picnic blankets where people from the same household or quarantine pod can sit.  If you're feeling extra festive (or extra cautious), further designate these areas by placing planters, or two posts strung with a flag bunting between them. 

Encourage guests to check their temperature

Encourage guests to self-screen for coronavirus symptoms before heading to the party. Ask that guests take their temperature (or even monitor their oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter if they have one handy) as an extra precaution. This will not only ensure that sick guests stay home, but adding another safety measure will help those that do attend feel safer, and more free to have fun. 

With these ideas on deck, you’ll be able to celebrate this coming Fourth of July with a great deal of safety and more appreciation for the company of your family and friends.

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