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A dozen tips for a safe Labor Day gathering

Special to the Island News

It has been a long six months, and we are all tired of the “new normal.” For many, foregoing social gatherings has been one of the most difficult changes to everyday life.

“Unfortunately, the threat of COVID-19 hasn’t gone away,” RN and Beaufort Memorial Patient Safety Officer Ashley Hildreth said. “To protect each other and prevent further spread of the virus, we all still need to take the simple measures of frequent hand washing, maintaining 6 feet of distance and wearing a mask in public.”

But if you can’t take it anymore and feel the need to get friends and family together, there are some measures you can take to make your event as safe as possible.

Here’s what Hildreth recommends:

1. Limit the number. Smaller gatherings allow guests to spread out within a space.

2. Consider who is on your guest list. Guests who all share similar philosophies on COVID-19 prevention will help everyone feel at ease.

“You should also consider what the potential risk is for your guests and others in their households to have severe complications should they contract the virus,” said Hildreth, the former assistant director of the ER at Beaufort Memorial and a board-certified emergency nurse. “Obviously, anyone who is feeling at all unwell, has tested positive, is awaiting test results or has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive should opt to stay home.”

3. Hold it outdoors. This also helps with the issue of space.

“In addition, being outside provides more air circulation, which helps disperse germs,” Hildreth said. But watch the weather forecast and include a rain date with your invitation to ensure you don’t end up hosting inside with tight quarters.

4. Pay attention to set up. Space out chairs and tables to help guests, remember to keep their distance. Leave the lid off the trash can and cooler to eliminate frequently touched surfaces.

5. Mind your greeting. Wearing a mask and offering a wave or “air hug” instead of any close contact helps set the tone for safety. Have some disposable masks available in case anyone forgets theirs.

6. Ask everyone to wear a mask. If they aren’t actively eating or drinking, guests should have a mask on — even at outdoor events — because they’ll be within 6 feet of each other.

7. Make hand hygiene easy. Provide hand sanitizer and consider paper towels instead of hand towels in the bathroom.

8. Forget about potluck and shared dishes. Individually wrapped meals and items in single-serving packages keep guests from handling the same serving utensils, condiments and drinks.

9. Go for bottles or cans. This will keep many hands from touching pitchers and keg taps. BYOB is another great option.

10. Consider server duties. If everything can’t be pre-portioned or packaged for individuals, you can have one person dishing up food, serving condiments and pouring drinks.

“Servers should wear a mask covering both their nose and mouth, as well as gloves,” Hildreth said.

11. Choose activities and games wisely. Games played at a distance that minimize touching shared items are the best. Think kickball, corn hole, ladder ball, lawn darts and bocce ball instead of card games, beer pong and the like. If there are any shared items, be sure to have disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer nearby.

12. Kindly refuse help with clean up. Bringing things inside yourself will keep items from being handled by lots of hands and minimize the number of people in and out of your home.

“It’s a matter of managing risk,” Hildreth said. “While you can’t reduce it to zero, planning ahead can minimize the risk of spreading germs and starting an outbreak in your social circle.”

 

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