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How to safely navigate group gatherings

If your summer plans involve people from outside your household, there are certain precautions to keep in mind.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After staying in our homes for months, many people are ready to get out and socialize before the summer is over. 

If your plans involve people from outside your household, there are certain precautions to keep in mind. 

Brian Hartl, an epidemiologist with the Kent County Health Department, gave the following advice.

Think about the size of your group, and the size of your space. Make sure there‘s enough room for social distancing, between households. 

Smaller gatherings are less risky than larger ones, and outdoor gatherings are better than indoor. But if you are inside, open windows for ventilation. 

When it comes to food, Hartl said it's a good idea to ask guests to bring their own, or have one person serve it to everyone.

Also, keep an eye on what’s happening locally. If you see a spike in cases, consider delaying your event or gathering.

But bottom line, Hartl said to be responsible. 

“We have events going on like this, where people are gathering, getting in close contact, we're seeing small outbreaks of COVID-19,” Hartl said. “That's going to continue to raise our numbers, and it's going to continue to make it hard to get back to normalcy and open those schools in the fall. So, as much as we can individually to understand that, and to take on that responsibility to say I'm a part of this, I'm a part of the solution.” 

Vulnerable populations and older adults will still want to avoid large gatherings. 

If you aren’t feeling well, even if you think it's just a cold or allergies, don’t go out. Same goes for people who are supposed to be in quarantine, or are waiting on test results. 

Also don’t be afraid to let your guests know expectations in advance, like following these guidelines, and wearing a mask.

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