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Cornelius News

How to plan a safer gathering amidst the pandemic

Oct. 22. If you’re thinking about a gathering of friends and family, the first thing to remember in these COVID times is not to exceed gathering limits set by Gov. Roy Cooper and the NC Dept. of Health & Human Services.

Gatherings should have nor more than 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Gatherings above these limits are currently prohibited statewide to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Of course, the virus can be spread in smaller gatherings as well.

NCDHHS provided these considerations for planning gatherings:

—When deciding how many people to invite to your gathering, consider the amount of space you
have and the ability to maintain social distancing during the event.

—People at high risk of complications for COVID-19 (e.g., people over 65 years of age or with underlying chronic conditions) should avoid social gatherings. If they do attend, ensure the 3Ws are practiced.

—Consider hosting virtual events or having a virtual option for individuals that are higher risk to join safely from their home.

—Outdoor activities are preferred over indoor because it is easier to stay apart and there is more wind and air to help reduce the spread of the virus. However, even in outdoor settings, the more people that interact increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

—Practice the 3 Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash) during the event: Wear a face covering, Wait six feet apart
from others, and Wash your hands regularly.

—Anyone who develops COVID-19 within 48 hours after attending a gathering should notify other
attendees as soon as possible regarding the potential exposure.

Hosting a Social Gathering

—Remind guests to stay home if they are sick

—Remind invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days
or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.

—Consider keeping a list of guests who attended for potential future contract tracing needs.
Encourage guests to download the SlowCOVIDNC Exposure Notification App.

—Tell your guests what steps you are taking to make sure your gathering is as safe as possible.

Encourage social distancing 

Host your gathering outdoors, when possible. If this is not feasible, make sure the room or space is well-ventilated by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.

—Arrange tables and chairs to allow for social distancing. People from the same household can be in groups together and do not need to be 6 feet apart – just 6 feet away from other groups or families.

—If planning activities for adults and/or kids, consider those where social distancing can be maintained, like sidewalk chalk art, corn hole, or frisbee.

—When guests arrive, minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, rather than shaking hands or giving hugs, wave and verbally greet guests.

—Be mindful of serving alcohol, as guests are less likely to follow social distancing practices when drinking.

Wear cloth face coverings

—Wear cloth face coverings when less than 6 feet apart from people or indoors.

—Consider providing cloth face coverings for guests or asking them to bring their own.

Clean hands often

—Consider providing hand sanitizer in addition to clearly marked hand washing areas.

—Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when entering and exiting social gatherings. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

—Make sure there is adequate soap or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, paper towels, and tissues available in the restrooms and encourage guests not to form a line at the door. Consider also providing cleaning supplies that allow guests to wipe down surfaces before they leave. Remove shared/communal hand towels.

—Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.

—Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel. Limit the number of people handling or serving food

—Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks.

—Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible. Have one household approach the food serving area at a time to prevent congregating.

—If serving any food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils. Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, and condiments, so that multiple people are not handling the items.

Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items

—Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, sink handles, bathroom surfaces) before guests come over and between uses. • Clean and disinfect any shared items between use when feasible.

—Use touchless garbage cans or pails or take lids off garbage cans to decrease the number of items touched.

—Source: NC Dept. of Health & Human Services