As summer approaches, parts of the country are still seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.
And after months at home, the warmer weather is going to have Americans wanting to enjoy barbecues with friends and family.
With restaurants reopening for dine-in service, many are wondering if it is also safe enough to eat outdoors with guests?
Experts gave tips to Today about how to safely host an event, primarily if you’re serving food.
Dr. Rashid A. Chotani, an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at Health Central, said, “there is no one-size-fits-all answer (as) to whether one can host or attend a summer barbecue or any other gathering.”
In addition to state and local safety guidelines, Chotani added a key component to consider is who you are planning to invite.
When making a list for your barbecue, people should keep notes on everyone’s health status, age and general comfort level of all guests.
"Ask yourself if you know who is there and how careful they have been — and does it match with what you do for protecting your family," added Dr. Sharon Nachman, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
It is also essential to pay attention to the weather. If it is nice outside then there will be more space to maintain social distancing protocols. However, if there is rain, people will most likely be cramped trying to stay dry indoors, so postponing or canceling the gathering should be considered.
Food preparation and display are also important things to take into account.
Chotani suggests avoiding shared dishes like chips, dips and cheese platters. While sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs should be spaced apart from one another so people only touch their own food. Disposable plates, cups and utensils are also recommended.
While none of the experts urged guests to wear gloves, Dr. Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center, believes putting on a mask when not eating is ideal.
As far as beverages, consider letting people bring their own or offer them drinks in individual cans or bottles. And if you plan on serving beverages in a pitcher have hand sanitizer available nearby.
Making sure to regularly disinfect high-touch areas like bathrooms and door handles before, during and after the party is another way to ensure a safe environment for all your barbecue guests.