It’s time for the talk

How to get together safely

I may feel safe putting on a cloth face covering and heading to the grocery store. You may feel safer staying home and using a grocery delivery service. I may prefer to put my kids in child care rather than have them around my aging parents. You may feel it’s safer to have your parents watch the kids than to put them in child care.

No one wants to get sick or to get someone else sick. We all have different health issues, different experiences and different loved ones we are trying to protect. And, since there is no way to completely protect ourselves from COVID-19, we all have different ways of determining what risks we are comfortable taking and what risks we feel are just too dangerous.

When you are planning to meet up with a friend or family member in person, you may agree that you will be “safe,” but do you both understand what “safe” means to the other person?

Have a conversation in which you get really clear about how you will spend time together and still have everyone feel safe.

  • Will you go inside? Outside is so much safer than indoor areas, but, generally, bathrooms are inside. What is your agreement? Do you keep the gathering really short so no one needs to go inside? Is it okay for one person to go inside at a time? Remember — we all need to wear face coverings when we are in an indoor space that is not our home. Set up your outdoor area so that you can visit outside comfortably. Make sure there is shade from the sun, that your chairs are arranged so everyone can be at least six feet apart, and have your guests bring a sweatshirt for later in the evening.
  • How are you feeling? Do not get together if anyone is feeling under the weather. If you feel better tomorrow, great, you can reschedule. If you are still feeling ill with COVID-19 symptoms, call a health care provider or your local health jurisdiction to ask if you should get tested.
  • What is the plan for keeping the children six feet apart? If the kids can’t reliably stay six feet apart, would you like them to stay home? Or maybe they can wear cloth face coverings while they are outside together. Maybe you can plan for them to ride bikes together or do other activities that make it easy to play together from a distance.
  • Talk through the details. How do you feel comfortable serving food? Singing is a risk for spreading COVID-19. Are we going to sing happy birthday? Maybe with our faces covered? Is the birthday honoree going to blow on the cake? (No.) What does a socially distanced walk mean to you? Are you wearing masks? Are you both able to walk six feet apart and not interfere with traffic?
  • I love you. Find a safe way to show it. Without hugs, kisses, or handshakes. And from six feet away.

Practice compassion. Wearing a cloth face covering indoors isn’t about your personal risk tolerance. It’s about keeping everyone safe. Keep your gatherings very small, and get together with other people less than once or twice a week. Stay outside, stay six feet apart, and enjoy your loved ones.

More information

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Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday — Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday — Sunday. Language assistance is available.

Please note that this call center cannot access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your health care provider.

Public Health Connection

From the Washington State Department of Health