An extended lockdown necessitated virtual meet-ups and gatherings of friends and family. It is not the same as catching up in person. With the lockdown easing in phases, you may be eager to spend quality time catching up, eating, talking, enjoying with your loved ones. These tips will help you do so while also ensuring everyone’s safety.
Go ahead and arrange a get together only if everyone at home is healthy and they have not been recently sick, or they have not been in recent contact with any unwell person. It may be a good idea to not invite friends over just yet, if anyone in your family works in a high-risk environment such as hospitals, clinics, police force, labs, etc.
Here are some simple hygiene tips to keep in mind when inviting friends over:
1) Deciding Location and Guest Number
When you think of inviting friends and family over to your place, you first need to figure out the most suitable location for hosting invited guests. You may host it at your place after checking Government updates to see whether it is in a containment zone.
Ideally, host the gathering in an outdoor space or an open-air space such as your garden, backyard, terrace, and balcony. If you do not have such a space at home, then plan the gathering in a room that is very well ventilated (for example, keep the windows open).
The final location should be big enough to allow a spaced-out arrangement of tables and chairs; each placed at least 6 feet apart. People from the same household can be in groups together and don’t need to be 6 feet apart – just 6 feet away from other families.
Decide the number of people to invite, basis the above space availability. It is suggested to invite only those people who have not been recently sick themselves or haven’t had someone sick at their homes or who haven’t been in close contact with an unwell person over the past few days.
2) Preparing Your Home
Your home or the space where you are hosting the gathering must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected both, before and after, the party. This is because, as you may be aware, germs can travel up to several feet after a sneeze or cough and come to rest on nearby surfaces, clothes, etc.
Clean and disinfect the rooms, especially common areas such as living room, balcony, bathroom, kitchen, lobbies. Within each of these rooms, disinfect high touch surfaces such as switches, door handles, window handles, tables, chairs, flush handles, garbage cans and similar such. Try cleaning and disinfecting these commonly touched surfaces and any shared items before and after the party and between use, when feasible.
You can use a suitable disinfectant spray such as Domex Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray,which kills germs. Always test on a small hidden area and read the instructions on the pack for usage and compatible surfaces.
Another high touch surface is the floor. You can clean and disinfect the floor using a suitable disinfectant floor cleaner, like a sodium-hypochlorite based product such as Domex Floor Cleaner. Follow instructions on the pack for usage and compatible surfaces and always test on an inconspicuous area first.
Remember to keep sufficient supply of soap, handwash or hand sanitiser in the bathroom, at the wash basin and at other frequented common areas. Especially for the bathrooms, consider providing cleaning supplies so that guests can wipe down surfaces after use.
3) Encouraging Personal Hygiene
When guests arrive, minimize gestures that need close contact. For example, don’t shake hands or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet them.
Also, ensure everyone thoroughly washes their hands the right way with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser such as those available from Lifebuoy. Encourage hand washing after entering and before leaving, before and after using the washroom, before and after eating or serving.
It would be great to provide single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel. Also place tissues at multiple places for better hygiene.
It is recommended that everyone at the party wears a face mask when indoors or if there is less than 6 feet distance between people. You may offer face masks to the guests if they are not carrying their own.
Don’t forget to place a closed bin near the entrance for anyone who wants to dispose off their gloves, face masks or tissues before entering or before leaving.
4) Planning Activities
While planning fun activities for your friends and family, think of activities that encourage social distancing. For example, instead of playing musical chairs or playing cards, think of housie, antakshari, dumb charades or other such activities that do not need close contact or sharing items.
5) Handling Food
For better hygiene, you may limit access to the kitchen because fewer people means lesser chances of germs and infections. Also, designate one person for serving so that only that person touches the serving spoons, dishes and other serving utensils.
For the menu, try to keep single serve items such rolls, sandwiches, etc as far as possible. If your menu contains shareable items such as salads, vegetables, chips, soups, then again ask one person to serve all sharable items so that multiple people are not handling the items and the utensils.
If possible, try using disposable dishes, bowls, glasses, cutlery, etc and ensure they are safely disposed off later. If you plan to use reusable ones, then wash and clean them thoroughly between uses.
6) Cleaning and Sanitising Linen
After the event, simply wash all the common or frequently touched linen such as tablecloth, napkins, towels, seat covers, cushion covers, in the regular wash cycle with a good detergent.
You may also sanitise them post-wash with a laundry sanitiser such as Lifebuoy Laundry Sanitiser. Follow pack usage instructions for soaking, and do not mix with detergent.
With these precautionary tips, you can finally meet your friends and family and have fun!
Wear disposable gloves when taking out the trash after the event and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds thoroughly after removing the gloves.