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Celebrating and gathering safely

The calendar is full of time-honored traditions, celebrations and milestones, but during the pandemic considering engaging in safer activities that don’t put you, your family or the community at risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission in addition to respiratory droplets. Wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and keeping a safe distance (6 feet or more) from others you don’t live with will continue to be necessary through the coming months.

Even more important – avoid indoor gatherings at homes, restaurants, bars and other event venues where transmission is more likely to occur. 

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) urges everyone to continue COVID-19 prevention measures during celebrations and gatherings and plan for a safer way to celebrate this year.  

Here's how:

Steps everyone can take to make gatherings safer:

  • Wear a mask appropriately and consistently.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you. Remember that people without symptoms or with a recent negative test result can still spread COVID-19 to others. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces Avoid crowds and indoors spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors. If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.
  • Wash your hands Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing and before eating.
  • Have a virtual gathering. If you do gather with people who don’t live with you, gatherings and activities held outdoors are safer than indoor gatherings.

If you gather, more ways to do so wisely. Keep it small and stay local.

  • Have conversations with the host ahead of time to understand expectations for celebrating together.
  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, utensils, and condiment packets.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands regularly, especially before eating.
  • Avoid contact with non-attendees for 14 days before and after your gathering if possible.
  • Wear a mask indoors and outdoors and social distance.
  • Avoid shouting, cheering loudly, or singing. Clap, stomp your feet, or bring (or provide) hand-held noisemakers instead.
  • Stay home if you are sick or have been near someone who thinks they may have or have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • It’s okay if you decide to stay home and remain apart from others. 

Avoid: Don't attend.

  • Don't attend large gatherings, especially indoors.
  • Don't do potlucks, buffets, or other shared food serving.
  • Don't go to places with crowds, such as stores, parties, events, and sports.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19.

If you do get together with extended family and friends, keep the group size to less than 10 people and host your gathering outdoors or in a well-ventilated space. Arrange tables and chairs to allow for physical distancing, wear masks when less than 6 feet apart and minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, don’t shake hands, do elbow bumps, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet them. Remind people who are sick, those who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 or anyone waiting on a COVID-19 test result to stay home.

Shop online. If that’s not possible, shop during less crowded times, such as early morning or later in the evening. If you are an older adult or have a medical condition that puts you at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19 or the flu, shop when stores have reserved hours for vulnerable populations.

Get a flu shot this year. It may prevent you from getting the flu or getting seriously ill from the flu which will reduce the burden of flu illnesses and hospitalizations on the health care system. It can take up to two weeks after immunization for your body to build up the antibodies that will protect you from the flu, so get your flu shot now so you’re protected throughout the holiday season.

Flu shots are readily available at most doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and the local health department. You can walk-in and get a flu shot at JCDHE’s immunization clinic in Olathe Monday-Friday.

Mental health is important too. Many people are experiencing stress on top of the loneliness, fear and anxiety that some may be experiencing during the pandemic. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, tell a trusted family member or friend or reach out to Johnson County Mental Health’s 24-hour crisis line at 913-268-0156

The CDC provides additional guidance for gatherings and celebrations.

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Questions or concerns?

If you have questions about Johnson County’s public health order or to report a concern about a violation, email [email protected].

If you have virus-related questions, call the Johnson County Community COVID-19 Hotline. You can also call this number if you need a safe place to quarantine or isolate.

Staffed by public health professionals.
913-715-CV19 (2819)
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.