• By Dana Sparks

5 things to consider before participating in-person at group gatherings

September 28, 2020
a family having a picnic under a tree in a local park

Over the past six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of people's lives. Many are feeling a high level of social isolation. People thrive on connections with one another, and COVID-19 has required physically distancing in ways that make it hard to connect socially.

"While it is understandable that people are trying to find ways to safely socialize together in the same physical space, we have seen multiple cases of COVID-19 transmission among people who attended outdoor gatherings where they tried to maintain social distance," says Dr. Melanie Swift, a Mayo Clinic preventive medicine expert. "Despite the best efforts of the hosts and attendees, it is almost impossible to maintain COVID-19 precautions at a gathering such as this." And even in the workplace, it can be hard to observe social distancing consistently.

For your safety and that of others, consider the following when making decisions about how to connect with others and help one another find ways to foster those connections safely:

  • People are most contagious for COVID-19 just prior to symptom onset. So people who look and act completely healthy could actually be contagious for COVID-19.
  • Whenever food and drink are served, people cannot be masked and this increases the risk of transmission.
  • When people need to speak loudly, because of physical distance or background noise, droplets travel farther than usual.
  • Alcohol relaxes  inhibitions and contributes to louder talking and lapses in distancing.
  • Transmission occurs outdoors as well as indoors.

This article is written by Mayo Clinic staff.

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