How to Host a Safe Summer BBQ

It has been a long winter and an even longer time since any real back yard BBQs! As the pandemic seems to get more under control let's talk about how to host a  BBQ with your friends and family again. 

Fourth of July picnics and potlucks galore are the usual summer experience However, with some social distancing guidelines still in place and not everyone having the vaccination yet, these gatherings with family and friends are likely far from normal still. If you want to host a socially distanced backyard barbecue, there are a few things you need to do to ensure that it's a safe and comfortable experience for all.

First and foremost, think about how you'll prepare the food. Whether you're taking on the duty of grill master or assigning someone else to the task, it's important for the head chef to be healthy and free of all coronavirus symptoms. Make sure that anyone who is involved with food production including shopping, prepping, cooking, and serving are not showing any signs of sickness, in addition to confirming that they have not been in contact with people that have been sick.

Set Expectations Ahead of Time

Make sure that all invitees are on the same page and let them know what precautions you will be taking before the party begins. "Ensure your guests have no symptoms of fever, cough, or sore throat prior to coming," says Dr. Hochman. Ask your guests to arrive wearing a face mask and inform them of your plans for social distancing. Consider the bathroom situation, too—most likely guests will need to use it, so ask that they walk through your house with a face mask on and thoroughly sanitize before and after entering.

Provide PPE

Wearing a fabric face mask in the middle of summer isn't exactly comfortable, but it's necessary in order to keep everyone at the party safe and prevent spreading the virus. You should also set up sanitation stations with bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes at each table so that everyone can sanitize throughout the party. Feel free to provide gloves in case a guest would like an extra layer of protection when touching food or utensils.

Choose the Menu Carefully

Backyard barbecues usually mean communal bowls of chips and dips, a pile of ribs or large pot of pulled pork that anyone can help themselves to, and a cooler filled with cold beers, bottled water, and a carton of lemonade. Now a days, the community-oriented, help-yourself-style of serving is a thing of the past. "Self-service where guests handle spoons and tongs is not acceptable in this climate," says Lloyd. Instead, he recommends having pre-plated meals for each guest in order to minimize the direct contact that people have with the food—and each other. If you do want to serve food buffet-style, place protective barriers over any exposed food and have hand sanitizer readily available for guests in line. "The safest way to distribute food [buffet-style] is to have one person designated to serve and for that one person to have meticulous hand hygiene," says. Dr. Hochman.

For your barbecue menu, plan to serve individual bags of potato chips; prepared burgers, hot dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches on individual plates that guests can grab one at a time; and serve potato salad and other salads in small plastic cups. 

Experts also advise against using the same plates and cups for second helpings in order to prevent spreading germs. Instead, use look at disposable paper plates and utensils. I wonder where you could get those?

Stay safe and have fun this summer as we all try to get back to a bit of normalcy

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