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Safe Gathering Standards for 2021

a wedding couple wearing masks
Photo by Cottonbro

It’s Not Over Yet

Covid-19 has been going on for a year now and while the CDC’s analysis is that things are improving, we’re not out of the woods yet. The vaccine is out, but not everybody’s had a shot yet. Limitations of distribution mean the roll-out won’t be instant, so we still have to be careful. That said, things are opening up more, especially here in Cache Valley, Utah. That means people are going to want to do things they weren’t able to do over the last year. We’re not going to try to stop you – very obviously, we can’t – but if you are going to attempt to hold some gatherings, business or family related, we recommend a few things.

1. Adequate Space

If you’re going to have a business or family party, you’re going to want to make sure that there’s room for people to space out. Social distancing isn’t going away just yet and you should keep to it. The six foot space, coupled with masks, is one of the most effective and basic things you can do to reduce the risk of spreading disease. Proper masks will catch a lot of the saliva and infectious particles that come from a sneeze or cough, and six feet is the average distance a sneeze would carry disease without a mask. Combining the two is very useful.

So, if you’re going to gather, you need to make sure there’s adequate space. If the activity has to be held indoors, you want a large place, like Castle Manor for example. There should be room to spread out and make sure that the number of guests invited is kept to the limits that the space you are renting can support for social distancing. Keep indoor gatherings to 50 people or less if you can.

If you can reserve a place that’s outdoors, that’s much better. Now that the weather is starting to warm up, this may be an option again. Air circulates better outside, and there’s more space to spread out, so the chance of spreading airborne disease is much smaller.

2. Make Sure Catering Companies Take Precautions

Food is always a question at gatherings like this. Catering is one of the was you can make it easier on yourself. Just make sure that your catering company takes the right precautions. They should have all the right gear – masks, gloves, sanitizer, etc. – to keep you safe. That much is obvious. They should also take extra steps. Pauni Island recently told us that one of their procedures is to have a small number of servers manage the food. Instead of letting people take the food themselves, people tell the servers what they want and the servers prepare it. This minimizes contact with the food in the preparation area.

Going the extra mile, they should also regularly clean their hands with sanitizer or soap whenever they handle anything other than the food. They should put glass or plastic barriers between the food and the people getting it. To maintain social distancing standards, only a small number of people should be allowed to go get food at one time. Taking these extra precautions will minimize the risk.

3. Sick People Should Not Go

This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people ignore this basic precaution. If you’re showing symptoms of any sickness – Covid related or otherwise – just stay home. Parties are fun and it’s good to see everybody, but there will always be more parties. If you skip this one, there ill be another. It’s not worth risking getting everybody else sick just to enjoy a party. Will the momentary enjoyment of the party outweigh knowing you spread sickness to people you care about? If you have a soul, it probably won’t.

It’s like Jay Sherman said, “if your health stinks, just don’t go.”

I may be paraphrasing that incorrectly.

A social distancing warning sign
Photo by Tim Mossholder

Stay Healthy

Hopefully, we’ll be past this soon. Diseases have cycles and they don’t last forever. With the right precautions, we should be getting over it. We’re all anxious to get back to normal, but let’s not jump the gun. Keep following the CDC recommended health guidelines for masks, social distancing, and cleanliness.

And remember, there’s always time for more parties in the future. If you have any doubts about your ability to provide safe and healthy conditions for gathering, postpone it. Do your research on your catering companies to be sure they follow good health guidelines. If they don’t, find someone else. Make sure the gathering place you reserve has enough space. If it doesn’t, find another place. Avoid inviting more people than can safely gather under social distancing guidelines, and tell everyone that if they’re feeling sick, they should stay home. No exceptions. It’s better to wait for the next party than risk there not being a next one.