COVID-19 Cases are Extremely High. Avoid Events and Gatherings
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are extremely high across the United States. To decrease your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, CDC recommends that you do not gather with people who do not live with you at this time. Attending events and gatherings increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Travel to Small Gatherings
Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19 due to potential exposures on public transit, at airports, or in hotels. CDC continues to recommend postponing travel and staying home, as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.
Steps Everyone Can Take to Make Small Gatherings Safer
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.
- In cold weather, wear your mask under your scarf, ski mask, or balaclava.
- Keep a spare mask in case your mask becomes wet from moisture in your breath or from snow or rain.
Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
Attending a Gathering
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
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 and disinfect 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 and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items.
- 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
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
- If you are exposed to COVID-19 at a gathering, while traveling, or at any time, take steps to protect yourself and others.
- If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within 14 days of the gathering, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately notify the host and others who attended.
- If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker may contact you to check on your health and to identify and support contacts who may have been infected. Your information will be confidential. Learn more about what to expect with contact tracing pdf icon[1.7 MB, 2 pages].