The United States has been grappling with this pandemic for about a year now, and simple traditions like the Memorial Day cookout have become immensely more complicated. A cursory Google search for “Memorial Day Tips” will mostly just yield results about driving and grilling safety from years ago. We lived in simpler times then. What follows is a few tips and ideas for safely hosting your own Memorial Day cookout so you can feel—if only for an afternoon—like everything is fine and Summer is going to be totally normal!
Frequently Refer To CDC Guidelines
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is your source for all things related to pandemic safety, and while this article aims to provide tips for a Memorial Day cookout specifically, the CDC goes far more in-depth than we ever could, and their website gets updated frequently.
At the time of writing this, Memorial Day is still months away and there is no way to know for sure how different things will be when summer finally gets here. Will the vaccine have made its way to most of the population by then and will the numbers be way down? Will things be even worse? Who knows! That’s why it’s never too early to start planning ahead to throw your block’s barbecue bash.
It is absolutely imperative to periodically check the CDC’s recommendations and to familiarize yourself with all of their resources. You should also keep up to date with your area’s specific limits on gatherings. Do all those juicy hot dogs make it worth getting fined?
Keep It Outside
It’s no secret that the virus is far more likely to spread amongst people who are in enclosed spaces together for an extended period of time, so don’t outsmart yourself! Memorial Day is all about welcoming that nourishing and warm summer sun anyway.
If you are hosting a gathering at your home, make sure everything happens outdoors, and only allow guests inside to use the bathroom. I know it may sound rude to disallow your guests from entering the premises for anything other than the call of nature, but it’s a necessary precaution for you and your guests. If you’re upfront with them when you invite them, they should understand.
Holding your barbecue at another site, such as a wide-open park, could be the best option here. Not to mention that if you don’t own your own home, then it’s the only option! The only downside is that it’s harder to control outside forces, and transporting all of the necessary materials could be a pain.
You should also be prepared for the weather, as it isn’t really an option to just invite everybody inside if it starts raining. Unless you want unhappily moist guests, you might want to consider renting or buying a tent or two, if you can afford it. Just beware of falling down the matrimonial rabbit hole of wedding tents. You don’t need that kind of hostile positivity.
Limit Your Number Of Guests
While there’s really no universally correct maximum number of guests, it is essential for the safety of your Memorial Day cookout that there aren’t too many people for the given space. It’s time to be choosey about your invitees. If when you’re preparing your guest list, think to yourself about a person, “Do they absolutely need to be there?” then forget them! VIPs only.
Grilling for only your immediate social circle can be more fulfilling and less stressful anyway. Limiting your gathering to only your closest friends and family means a lower risk of propagating the virus. It also means you have a great excuse not to invite that uncle that gets drunk and starts showing everyone his tattoos, no matter how inappropriate their location on his body.
Wear Masks And Stay 6 Feet Apart
Yes, even outside. If every single person is wearing a mask, the chances of spreading the virus are reduced in ways that are simply common sense. It’s not about protecting yourself from other’s germs, it’s about protecting others from your own germs.
The guests have to eat sometime, however, so masks can’t be on at all times. That makes staying six feet apart that much more crucial. Make sure you set up enough chairs for all of your guests and make sure they are at least six feet apart.
If you have any known anti-maskers on your list of invitees, it might be time to reconsider your relationship. It’s a simple courtesy that makes everyone safer. Making custom masks for all of your guests could be a fun and not-so-subtle way of enforcing a mask rule. If anyone still refuses to wear a mask at that point, then they are clearly just the Memorial Day cookout Grinch.
Stock Up On Sanitizer
Remember when this all started and people were buying and upselling hand sanitizer? Well, there’s a reason for that beyond the parasitic ruminations of capitalism. Ensuring that one’s hands are clean is one of the most essential precautions we can take, and an outdoor event means that washing hands with soap and water will not always be an option. Don’t be the host that runs out of hand sanitizer for their guests before the food is even served, ya’ nasty.
Additionally, it is a good idea to make sure you sanitize all surfaces before and after the event. While more recent evidence increasingly shows that the virus is not likely to spread on surfaces, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this is something you absolutely can control. Don’t be lazy!
Get Tested And Vaccinated (If Possible)
Getting tested for Covid is as easy as it has ever been, so there is really no reason not to get tested before a party such as this. If you really want to be safe, make a negative test a requirement for entry to your Memorial Day Cookout. I know there can be false negatives and inconclusive tests, so this isn’t a comprehensive solution. If you are able to enact this restriction, it is still important to follow all the other tips.
Vaccinations are our way out of this horrible mess, and it really pains me that so many people are opposed to them. Don’t be selfish. Don’t be stupid. If the vaccination becomes available to you, you are morally obligated to get it. We are all responsible for putting a stop to this virus that has killed nearly half a million Americans at the time of writing this.