How do we invite people to our homes in the era of COVID-19?

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The global pandemic of coronavirus is still with us, but some conditions are easing here in Australia. One of the changes means that we can invite up to 10 friends and family members to our home. How do you do that and stay safe? How can you politely ask people to not come over if they’re feeling even a little bit unwell?

I don’t know about you but I’m really looking forward to hanging out with my besties. We were planning a simple get together at home – a few people over for an easy dinner, some wine, chats and many laughs. Then we paused and wondered if it was safe.

• How do we make sure people coming over aren’t carrying the coronavirus?
• How do we make sure we don’t make them sick?
• How do we sanitise hand and home surfaces without it being awkward?
• What do we serve?

So, the Slendier team has busily pulled together this “Guide to Socialising at Home in The Era of COVID-19”. It’s by no means exhaustive, and at the end of the day, you have to do what’s right for you and your family. Obviously, if you’re at all unsure, the safest thing to do is to stay in quarantine.

1. How do we make sure people coming over aren’t carrying the coronavirus?

This is a tricky one. The reality is that it’s nearly impossible to know if people don’t have the virus unless they’ve been tested, and cleared, close to the get together.

One of the major reasons the virus turned into a pandemic is that some people have carried the virus, have been highly infectious but not shown any symptoms for up to a week (technically this is known as being presymptomatic), or ever (this is asymptomatic).

So, your bestie might look and feel fine but be highly contagious with COVID-19. No one knows for sure how common this is, but various studies across the world have shown 30-43% of people tested in dedicated COVID-19 studies (some randomised, some from high risk areas and some with known cases of Coronavirus) had COVID-19 and were totally unaware they had it.

The social issue is that it can seem awkward to ask people to take their temperature or report on their health before coming over. But for the sake of you and your family’s health, you could consider making sure you’re not inviting someone over who might be sick. Our suggestions to tackle this one:

– As part of your invitation, create a “Health Check – Go or No” time zone. So, say if you’re inviting people over for dinner at 7pm, make 11am that day the “Health Check – Go or No” time. This means that everyone, guests and hosts, all check their health at that time and if they have a temperature, feel at all unwell, slept badly or have a niggle, they can cancel with no issue!

– Mention your concern about staying well and being good hosts when you invite them. You might say something like “And don’t worry, we won’t try and hug you when you come over – we want everyone to stay well!”

– Don’t hug or kiss your guests when they arrive or when they leave. If you have kids coming over, turn it into a game and ask them to invent a safe or fun alternative.

– After everyone leaves, make sure you disinfect all main surfaces and dishes your guests have touched.

2. How do we make sure we don’t make them sick?

– It’s a good idea to do a quick temperature check on the family on the morning that people are due to come over. If someone has the slightest elevated temperature, you’re better off postponing the catch up or doing it via Zoom.

– Even though the smell might be off-putting, it’s a good idea to use disinfectant before everyone comes over. We’ve found some great tips from Clean my Space. She has taught us the difference between cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting… yes they’re different things!

– Pretty much everyone we know has set up a “sanitising station” near their front door. A good idea might be to set up a mini sanitising station near the dining table. We love these dispensers, and some are so stylish you won’t mind having them near the table.

– Make sure there’s enough room – don’t crowd people around the table. If you can, host the dinner or drinks outside.

– Consider downloading and using the Australian Government’s Covidsafe App. If someone becomes unwell, it will be vital to contact them immediately.

3. What do we serve?

– No matter what you make, serve up individual portions in the kitchen rather than putting a communal bowl or platter on the table.

– Consider ordering a pizza or other food from a local restaurant – it’s a good chance to support them.

– If anyone offers to bring something with them, say no unless it’s packaged or bottled.

– If you are cooking at home, it’s a good idea to think about cooking something that can be easily stored and used later. You might find that your guests need to cancel on the morning of the get together.

– If you’re looking for some delicious recipes that are great for people with allergies or looking after their health, we’ve got some great new recipes on the Slendier website!

Stay safe and stay well.

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