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How Can You Keep Up With Advice for Your Area?
City and state health department websites may provide guidance. The latest federal advice is on the CDC’s mask page; find local illness levels under “COVID-19 County Check.”

Should You Ask Guests Whether They’re Vaccinated?
It’s reasonable, says Joshua Barocas, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado in Aurora. The best way to protect those who are unvaccinated (like young kids) is to ensure that other guests are vaccinated.

More on Safe Gatherings

What Precautions Should You Consider Taking?
Ask guests to mask up in indoor public spaces the week before. Know that gathering outside is far safer than inside.

Indoors, open windows to enhance airflow. If some guests are unvaccinated, consider asking them to take a rapid test before they visit, says James Dickerson, PhD, chief scientific officer at CR. In this instance, it’s also safest for everyone to stay socially distant and wear masks indoors, he adds, especially if people at high risk, like older adults, attend.

Can You Serve Food Family-Style? How Much Do You Need to Clean Surfaces?
Gathering indoors with others is the greatest risk. Cleaning often isn’t likely to make a big difference, nor is the way you serve food, Barocas says.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the November 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.