The Backyard Barbecue—How to Host One Safely in the Age of COVID-19

The summer barbecue used to be a simple pleasure that we didn’t think twice about enjoying with family and friends. Now, in the era of COVID, many of us are wondering if it’s safe to host a barbecue get together? Here’s answers to common questions.

How many people is it safe to have at an outdoor barbecue?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, infectious disease experts advise that it is not just the size of the gathering but also how large your yard is, as well as on state-specific guidelines for public gatherings. You’ll need to be aware of the current maximum capacity and social distancing guidelines and make sure you can abide by them in your yard.

Who should I invite (or not invite) to a backyard barbecue…from a COVID perspective?

If the COVID-19 virus weren’t an issue, you could invite whomever you want to a barbecue, of course. However, now you should consider the age, health status and general comfort level of all guests who are invited, as well as that of your own immediate family. No one who is sick or caring for or living with someone who is sick or immunocompromised should attend.

Does it matter if people come inside my home if I host a barbecue?

While you may not think of the weather being an important factor as far as mitigating COVID-19 risk at your event, it certainly can be. For example, if there's a good chance of rain (which means guests would likely seek shelter together indoors and not necessarily observe social distancing rules), consider postponing or cancel your barbecue.

What kind of foods should I serve to avoid spreading COVID-19?

Avoid serving any kind of food that guests would use their hands to take from a multi-serving bowl. For example, serve snacks in individual ramekins or little baggies.

In general, don’t serve shared dishes like chips, veggie trays and dips. Use disposable dishes and utensils, too. Consider serving chili, pasta salads, burgers or any item that can be easily handled with serving utensils.

How can I safely serve condiments and drinks?

Make sure you offer single-serving drinks such as soda, beer and water in cans and bottles. Tuck them into a bucket of ice and keep them in handy reach of your guests.

Communal condiments should be replaced with individual serving packages, or at the very least, use squeeze bottles to avoid having the condiments exposed to air and potential COVID-19 contamination.

Should guests wear masks and gloves?

Anyone serving food or drinks at your gathering should wear a mask and gloves. In addition, make sure to have a stash of disposable masks for people to wear after they finish eating, especially if they are within six feet of each other.

What about disinfecting before, during and after the barbecue?

Health experts advise disinfecting all high-touch areas that your guests will have access to before they arrive, during the party and after they leave. In particular, pay special attention to your bathroom, countertops, door knobs and light switches. Be sure you have plenty of hand sanitizer and hand soap available, too.  

This summer is certainly different from the ones we’ve enjoyed in the past. Something as simple as a backyard barbecue now requires serious forethought and planning. Be sure to use these tips to help you plan a safe, but still enjoyable get together with friends and family.

Author: The Guest Table