Party like it’s 2020


If your county is in Phase 3, physically distanced gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed. If your county is in Phase 2, physically distanced gatherings of up to five people outside your household are allowed. Just because these gatherings are allowed doesn’t mean they are safe for you. Your home, away from people outside your immediate household, remains the safest place for you to be.

Woman wearing a face mask throws her arms up in celebration with her friends in the background and confetti in the air.

Safer parties use COVID-19 prevention practices

Here is a short list of things to remember when it comes to gathering together in the time of COVID-19:

  • Outside is safer than inside.
  • Small groups are safer than large groups.
  • Less time together is safer than more time together.
  • Within six feet, face coverings are better than no face coverings.

So, while a Zoom happy hour might be your safest choice, an outdoor barbecue with one other family, with the chairs set up six feet apart, where the hand sanitizer flows freely, and everyone goes home early, is a less risky option, as far as these things go.

Keep your friends and family healthy

Don’t go if you’re sick!

This may be your first opportunity to hang out with your friends in a while, but it isn’t your last, so if you feel sick at all — even just a little questionable — reschedule. We have weeks and weeks of sun ahead of us. If you still have a bit of a cough or other symptoms that might be related to COVID-19 the next day, call your health care provider or local health department to get tested.

Keep your distance

The need to stay six feet apart will be with us through at least Phase 4, so you may as well set up your yard or gathering place to accommodate it. Arrange the chairs so they are at least six feet apart. Consider outdoor games and activities for the kids that don’t involve wrestling or blowing bubbles into each other’s faces. You generally don’t have to touch each other when you are jumping rope, playing catch, doing a bean bag toss, or using sidewalk chalk.

Do the COVID-19 foot shake

Think of creative ways to greet your friends and say goodbye that don’t involve close contact. Maybe an “air hug”? Or try a great big smile and an enthusiastic, “I’m not touching you, but I’m so glad to see you!”

No communal food or drinks

Part of the joy of a potluck is sharing everyone’s cooking, but remember to share and taste while keeping your germs to yourself! Make sure everyone uses their own cup and dishes and uses utensils to grab some chips. Don’t share drinks, plates, or utensils. And when in doubt, go wash your hands again.

Wash, wash, wash your hands

And, of course, everyone needs to wash their hands for 20 seconds when they arrive, before they eat, and just before they leave. Keep hand sanitizer readily available and use it any time you have been touching shared hard surfaces and before touching your face.

Practice compassion

Time with friends and family is precious and important for our physical and mental health. Enjoy it. And protect each other by keeping your distance, wearing a cloth face covering indoors, and keeping your hands clean.

More information

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

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.



Washington State Department of Health
Public Health Connection

Protecting and improving the health of people in Washington State.