Planning a social gathering? Here are the dos, don'ts and risks

With people starting to socially gather, here’s what a doctor says is high and low-risk behavior.  

Backyard barbecue with close friends – low risk (except with kids)

According to Dr. David Hilden, the vice president of medical affairs at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, as long as multiple people aren’t hovering around the grill, a backyard barbecue should be safe.

“If one person is cooking on the grill and the others are sitting on chairs relatively far apart, that’s a relatively low risk thing to do,” Hilden said.

Adding kids to the mix, however, escalates the barbecue to a higher-risk scenario.

“Adding kids complicates it a whole bunch, because let’s face it, kids can’t social distance,” Hilden said. “They’re going to pass it like wildfire. You might as well assume they’re passing it to each other. They’re not going to have symptoms. They’re going to feel OK, but assume they have it.”

Having grandparents over – high risk

“Even though they might not get it, if they do, the chances of it being bad are much higher,” said Hilden.

“We can’t minimize that it’s hard for grandparents not seeing grandkids, but we also have to be realistic – it’s higher risk,” he added.

Walking outside with a friend – low risk

“I wouldn’t have a group of 10 walking around, but two friends gathering for a walk is a lower-risk situation,” Hilden said.

“Even if you sway towards each other, you’re side-by-side,” he said. “You’re not facing each other, you are outside, it is possible to maintain some semblance of social distancing,” he added.

Neighborhood kids playing together in the yard – moderate risk

“If it’s outside, like on their bikes, or climbing trees, that’s low risk for the kids themselves,” Hilden explained. “It raises it to a moderate risk because of all the people those kids might go touch later.”

Driveway gatherings – low risk

So long as everyone in the party brings their own beverages and chairs and keeps their distance, Hilden considers driveway gatherings low risk.

“You don’t want 50 neighbors, that wouldn’t be good, but 10, or two or three couples, you can do that safely,” Hilden said.

“Don’t all eat out of a common bowl. Stay six feet apart. If you want to make it safest, you might look silly, but wear a mask.”

Letting people use your bathroom – low risk

Whether it’s a neighbor or a friend, letting someone use your bathroom is generally low risk. He recommends that you wipe it down after the use.