- The article discusses how to safely host social gatherings as we transition into an endemic phase of living with COVID-19. It emphasizes the importance of setting and communicating ground rules for gatherings, especially considering the lifting of mask mandates in many places.
- Knowing your audience is crucial as everyone has different comfort levels and health risks related to COVID-19. The article suggests discussing expectations and precautions with guests in advance to ensure everyone feels comfortable.
- Special considerations should be made for children under five who are not yet eligible for vaccination. Precautions such as masking, frequent hand-washing, and maintaining social distance should be incorporated when they are present.
- The article encourages maximizing outdoor spaces for gatherings to minimize COVID-19 exposure risk and suggests having backup plans in case circumstances change unexpectedly.
- Lastly, it recommends testing for COVID-19 before hosting or attending larger events to ensure safety. It also provides resources for finding and booking COVID-19 tests and understanding insurance coverage for these tests.
This year, we’re finally heading into the spring season with optimism and fresh energy. Like you, our team at Solv is excited to take advantage of warm weather and blooming flowers by meeting up with friends for backyard barbeques and park parties as COVID severity wanes, the Omicron surge has continued to subside and we transition into an “endemic” phase of living with COVID.
While spring 2022 might not necessarily bring the same intensity of social energy as “hot vax summer” — a time when many newly vaccinated Americans felt comfortable gathering in larger groups for the first time — we’re still eager to socialize with less stress! The Solv team has compiled tips and tricks to help you host gatherings that are safe, establish some ground rules, and make you and your guests feel comfortable.
One more time for the people in the back: My house, my rules
We’ve shared this advice before for other holiday affairs, but it bears repeating: my house, my rules! With mask mandates now lifting in many places across the U.S., the status quo and social expectations for safety measures might feel a bit more ambiguous now. This means that if you’re the one hosting a party or event, you get to set the tone and establish parameters that you want your guests to abide by — and it’s on you to communicate that to your guests in advance, so there are no surprises.
Will guests be gathering in the backyard, on a roof or indoors? Do you want them to mask up when they go inside for snacks or use the restroom? Is it an open invite, or do you want folks to ask you before they bring any +1s or new friends so you can keep an eye on headcount? What’s the age range of those in attendance? Will there be people invited who are immunocompromised or who live with those who are? Do most folks go to work in person or do so remotely?
These are some key questions to ask yourself before deciding to host a party and considering who to invite. If you’ll be hosting an event with family members or other friends, it’s a good idea to discuss considerations like these in advance so you can ensure that you’re all on the same page.
Know your audience
Everyone has their own ground rules with COVID, and may experience varying susceptibility to the virus based on their health history. There’s no one right way to socialize, so it’s important not to make assumptions about what people are or aren’t comfortable doing during this next phase of COVID life.
Once you have a sense of how many guests will be invited, what space the gathering will be in and what your ground rules are, try to communicate these expectations to those invited as soon as possible. If you have friends who feel strongly about a particular precaution or expectation, it might be worth considering their request so that they’re comfortable attending.
If any friends or family decide that they’re not comfortable coming for any reason, remember to give them grace. This pandemic has reinforced the importance of respecting people’s boundaries, just as you’d want your friends and family to honor yours — everyone has their own challenges, risk capacity and health needs to juggle, and nobody owes anybody else an explanation or justification.
Keep kids in mind
Children under five still aren’t eligible to receive COVID vaccines, which can be a frustrating — and frightening — situation for parents of young kids to navigate as we’re all eager to resume our social lives.
If you have young kids or plan to host a gathering where parents of young kids will be attending, it can be worthwhile to communicate with these folks in advance, as this might significantly change your “ground rules.” If unvaccinated kids or parents of theirs will be present, consider incorporating precautions like masking, frequent hand-washing, staying outside-only and gathering in spaces with enough room to stay socially distanced.
Maximize the great outdoors
Particularly for events with kids present, spending outdoors is a great way to minimize risk of COVID exposure and soak up some vitamin D while you’re at it. Mild spring weather opens up a slew of social possibilities: beach picnics, park hang-outs, backyard barbeques, you name it. When you’re thinking about what kind of gathering to host, get creative. Using the great outdoors to your advantage so that people can spread out may reduce your stress levels, as well as those of your guests.
Stay flexible and have back-up plans
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we can never be sure exactly what to expect! Nothing is for certain — so if you’re the host, try not to get married to one idea of how an event will play out. Be sure to have a variety of back-up options up your sleeve if you need to pivot. Touch base with guests about any potential exposures beforehand in case anyone needs to cancel at the last minute. Finding an indoor-outdoor space will give you more flexibility to transition based on unexpected circumstances.
Test, test, test
It might ease your worries to take a COVID test — whether an at-home antigen test or a PCR — to ensure that you’re virus-free before attending or hosting a larger event. If you or your guests want to stay on top of testing, Solv is an easy way to help you find and book same-day COVID tests near you.
If you’re using insurance, Solv can also help you figure out how to get reimbursed for over-the-counter COVID tests that you purchase and take at home. For those of you thinking about using self-pay instead, Solv ClearPrices can supply you with information so that you know what you’ll pay ahead of time for testing.
Summary of Dating Etiquette Suggestions from Solv:
- My house, my rules: establish parameters and communicate those to guests so there are no surprises
- Know your audience, as your friends and family have their own risk factors and comfort levels to account for
- Keep kids in mind who are not yet vaccinated
- Maximize the great outdoors by using these spaces to socialize
- Stay flexible and have back-up plans in case you need to pivot
- Test, test, test before gathering
Frequently asked questions
What is the "endemic" phase of living with COVID?The "endemic" phase of living with COVID refers to the stage where the virus is still present in the population but at lower, more predictable levels. It is a stage where we learn to live with the virus, using precautions and treatments as necessary.
What are some considerations to keep in mind when hosting a gathering during the COVID endemic phase?When hosting a gathering, it's important to consider the venue (indoor or outdoor), whether masks will be required, the size of the gathering, the age range of attendees, and whether there will be immunocompromised individuals present. It's also crucial to communicate any rules or expectations to guests in advance.
How can I ensure my guests feel comfortable at a gathering during this phase of COVID?To make your guests feel comfortable, communicate your ground rules and expectations to them as soon as possible. Also, consider their individual comfort levels and health histories. If they have any specific precautions or expectations, try to accommodate them if possible.
How should I handle guests who decide not to attend due to COVID concerns?If guests decide not to attend due to COVID concerns, it's important to respect their decision without requiring an explanation or justification. Everyone has their own risk tolerance and health needs to consider.
What precautions should I take if there will be children at my gathering?If there will be children, especially those under five who are not yet eligible for vaccination, consider additional precautions such as masking, frequent hand-washing, outdoor-only gatherings, and ensuring enough space for social distancing.
How can I utilize outdoor spaces for my gathering?Outdoor spaces can be used for a variety of social activities such as beach picnics, park hang-outs, and backyard barbeques. Using outdoor spaces allows guests to spread out, reducing the risk of COVID exposure.
What should I do if unexpected circumstances arise related to COVID?If unexpected circumstances arise, it's important to stay flexible and have back-up plans. This could include having an indoor-outdoor space available or being prepared to change the date or format of the event if necessary.
How can I ensure that I'm virus-free before hosting or attending a larger event?One way to ensure you're virus-free is to take a COVID test before the event. This can be an at-home antigen test or a PCR test. Resources like Solv can help you find and book same-day COVID tests near you.
Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
- U.S. mask mandates are lifting quickly, but there are notable exceptions https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/08/us/us-mask-mandates-are-lifting-quickly-but-there-are-notable-exceptions.html (March 8, 2022)
- New Vaccine Findings Pose Tough Questions for Parents of Young Children (March 10, 2022) https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/10/health/COVID-vaccines-children.html
- A Roadmap to Returning to In-Person Events in 2022 (January 6, 2022) https://hopin.com/blog/returning-to-in-person-events