CDC has updated its guidance for people who are fully vaccinated. See Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.
CDC recommends schools continue to use the current COVID-19 prevention strategies for the 2020-2021 school year. Learn more
Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more
Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. CDC has updated guidance for fully vaccinated people based on new evidence on the Delta variant.
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

Small Gatherings

Small Gatherings
Springtime backyard gathering

Small gatherings are informal in nature and may occur with family and friends you regularly socialize with, often at someone’s residence. They typically do not involve long distance travel. Small gathering guidance might be more appropriate for social gatherings that are more intimate with close friends and family, such as small holiday parties, family dinners, and small special celebrations.

Safer Ways to Celebrate Graduations and End of School Events

Grads drive

Attending gatherings to celebrate graduations and other end of the school year events increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. The safest way to celebrate this year is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside while taking prevention measures.

  • Decorate your home with school photos and graduation messages.
  • Host a video chat party with family and friends to share in the celebration.
  • Dress up and have a small outdoor celebration with everyone at least 6 feet apart and wearing masks.
  • Grads prom

    Organize safely distanced drive-in or drive-through celebrations for those who are graduating.

  • Create a celebration video to share with family and friends.
  • Hang graduation yard signs in your community.

If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can

  • Gather in a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age.
  • Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness.

Travel to Small Gatherings

Travel may increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. CDC recommends delaying travel until you are able to get fully vaccinated. If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on public transportation. If you are considering traveling for a large gathering, visit CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family.

Steps Everyone Can Take to Make Small Gatherings Safer

Wear a mask

do wear a mask
  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19 to protect yourself and others.
  • Wear your mask over your nose and mouth, secure it under your chin, and make sure it fits snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Masks should be worn indoors and outdoors except when eating or drinking.

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

two families taking walks in a neighborhood
  • You are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others
  • Remember that people without symptoms or with a recent negative test result can still spread COVID-19 to others.
  • Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.

Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces

a family wearing masks at an indoor gathering
  • Avoid crowds and indoors spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors. If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.
  • For additional information on increasing ventilation, visit CDC’s information on Improving Ventilation in Your Home.

Wash your hands

washing hands
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing and before eating.
    • Make sure to dry your hands completely using a clean towel or by air drying.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.

Have a virtual gathering

a family dancing at home, with a computer screen showing another family dancing

The safest way to gather is at home with the people you live with. Here are some ideas for safely connecting with friends and family.

  • Schedule a time to eat a meal together virtually and have people show their main dish, vegetable, or dessert.
  • Gather virtually for a game, trivia, or activity
  • Host a virtual dance party with music.
  • Plan a virtual movie party.

Safer Small Gatherings

Gathering virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice.

If you do gather with people who don’t live with you, gatherings and activities held outdoors are safer than indoor gatherings.

If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can

  • Gather in a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age.
  • Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness.

Attending a Gathering

Two women planning a gathering by phone

In addition to following the steps that everyone can take to make the gatherings safer, take these additional steps:

  • Have conversations with the host ahead of time to understand expectations for celebrating together.
  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, utensils, and condiment packets.
  • Wear a mask indoors and outdoors.
  • Avoid shouting, cheering loudly, or singing. Clap, stomp your feet, or bring (or provide) hand-held noisemakers instead.
  • Stay home if you are sick or have been near someone who thinks they may have or have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • It’s okay if you decide to stay home and remain apart from others. Do what’s best for you.

Hosting a Small Gathering

small group firepit

Check the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where guests live to consider whether it is safe to hold or attend a gathering. If you choose to have guests at your home, make sure that everyone follows the steps to make gatherings safer. Here are tips to help you make your gathering safer:

  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for a safe gathering.
  • Limit the number of guests to allow people to remain at least 6 feet apart.
  • Host outdoor gatherings when possible with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Encourage everyone to use masks and have extra unused masks available for your guests.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • If gathering indoors, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • Encourage guests to wash hands often. Have a separate space for guests to wash their hands or provide hand sanitizer.
  • Keep background music volume low so guests don’t need to shout.
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces and any shared items. If someone has been sick see cleaning your home when someone is sick.
  • Cancel your gathering if you or someone who lives with you is sick or has been near someone who thinks they have or has COVID-19.

Planning for Food and Drinks

guest at door

There is no evidence that handling or eating food spreads COVID-19, but it is always important to follow food safety practices.

  • Encourage guests to bring food and drinks for their household.
  • Limit people going in and out of the food preparation areas.
  • Have one person serve all the food.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Limit crowding in areas where food is served.
  • Offer no-touch trash cans for guests to easily throw away food items.
  • Wash dishes in the dishwasher or with hot soapy water immediately following the gathering.

Steps to take if exposed to COVID-19 during a gathering