Being w/ small groups of people not part of your household bubble? Y, N, maybe?

Are you getting together socially (i.e., voluntarily) with people who are NOT members of your family/household bubble? I mean groups of 10-sh to 15-ish, not crowds.

I know some of you are still going to workplaces-- not asking about that, though always glad for comments from everyone. What are your personal/household rules and guidelines for socializing with outsiders? Distance, outdoors, masked?

Last night my book club had our fifth month of meeting by zoom. (FTR, zoom book club meetings suck, but I’m glad we have the option.) Each member takes a turn hosting on the first Wednesday of the month. October’s hostess proposed that next month we meet at her house in person on her outdoor deck. We will be distanced, but some said they would not plan to wear masks, as they feel that being oudoors and distanced is enough protection. We would not be sharing food. This is not a sedate group; there is a LOT of loud, animated talking, sometimes actually shouting each other down. Anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable attending will be included by zoom.

There are 10 members, all women. Most are in their 50s and 60s; two of us are in our 70s. I’m the only one (as usual) who is sheltering 100% alone. All have family/household bubbles that they either live with or visit regularly. The members and their household inmates interact with the outside world to varying degrees. Three women have older husbands with chronic illnesses. One woman would have just come back the day before from a plane trip to a family event and said she would not attend. She would quarantine herself for 14 days as she has after every (!) plane trip she’s taken this summer. :open_mouth:

There was discussion but the upshot was:

  • “I think we should just take the plunge.”
  • “We’re going to have to do it sooner or later, might as well be now.”
  • “We can’t stay locked down forever.”

San Antonio’s case numbers, after a big spike around July 4 holiday, are down a little one day, up a little the next, but overall steady. Total number of cases currently is just under 50,000 (county population ~2 million). Hospitalizations and deaths are down. We’re not a hotspot, but we’re nowhere near out of the woods. Labor Day, some schools opening-- numbers could go up again.

My first inclination is not to attend. I’ve made a habit of being very careful and in light of that, this just feels too risky for not much net benefit. But I’m wobbling-- maybe sitting far apart outside would be okay. Maybe it is time to start relaxing some of my self-imposed restrictions…

How are y’all handling and making decisions about stuff like this? What about other live-aloners who have had minimal contact with the outside world? Would you consider this a risk worth taking for the social contact and faux normalcy?

We have hosted two small family get-togethers this summer for my gf’s family. Tables were arranged outside, seating areas structured to maintain distancing, and bathroom use was the only reason to go inside. At 61 and 62 we were the youngest attendees. A good time was had by all.

We’ve had my daughter and her fiancé over a few times, following their negative tests at work. Still. cautious though.

I think you can do it if:

  • you all wear masks - get everyone to agree that this is an absolute must and that anyone not wearing one won’t be allowed.

  • you all stay at least 6 feet apart (perhaps even more than that)

  • sitting outdoors on a deck or patio is preferable to being indoors, but if you must be indoors, adhere to the first two points religiously.

  • obviously, if anyone’s not feeling well, stay home

asahi’s guidelines sound reasonable. Otherwise, I hope you don’t take the risk.

Note that I said in my OP:

Everyone has already NOT agreed on that.

Question: was my OP too wordy, so that you missed this? You’re ordinarily a careful reader, so maybe it’s my fault that I didn’t highlight this important, potentially deal-breaking detail. :thinking:

Nah, I just didn’t have enough coffee.

Anyway, if they said they’re not going to wear masks, that would be a deal breaker. I just wouldn’t chance it.

I’ve been getting together with groups about that size outdoors, somewhat distanced, without masks.

My kids (college-aged) had some get-togethers outside or in a garage (door open) without masks. I was less comfortable with that, but they were desperate for socializing.

I think the risk for small groups (that you trust to be honest about their health and habits) outside is pretty small. The people I’m getting together with are careful, wear masks when shopping, don’t have people in their homes, etc. I wouldn’t do it with people I didn’t trust to be as careful as I have been.

I’m in NJ and our number of new cases has been pretty low for a while now, so that’s another factor. I’d be less happy about it in some of the states with lots of current cases.

Re: being outdoors, I would agree that the likelihood of transmission is significantly reduced. It’s not very likely that someone would get coronavirus being outside and properly distanced. However, if people are sitting down, they are staying in one place for an extended period of time. She said the group consists of about 10 to 15 people, so that’s not just a small; that’s 10 to 15 sources of droplets, all of whom, while distanced, are presumably close enough to be audible. Does anyone have hearing trouble? Guess what, they’re going to move closer to everyone else.

Here’s another danger to consider. Can you truly guarantee that all of these 10 to 15 people are going to be outdoors at all times? What about bathroom breaks? What if it’s hot and people want a drink of water indoors? What if it suddenly starts to rain?

Thanks for the comments so far. I’m inclined to skip-- non-zero risk for no commensurate payoff.

There are 10 in our group, but we never get everyone, so it will likely be 6 to 8. The hostess said she would supply individual snacks, so no sharing. Same with beverages. There will be trips to the bathroom, individually, of course.

This is a careful group, all mature professional women. But it bothers me that their household members have contact with the outside world. One member is a nurse married to a doctor (both working). One has her adult daughter (a working nurse) living with her and her 80+ year old husband with Parkinson’s. One is a Ph.D. psychologist who is seeing clients by zoom. One is a college teacher teaching by zoom. She’s the only one with a school-age child. Her son is having a zoom Bar Mitzvah a week from Saturday.

I’m a solo. I’m also the most cautious of all my friends, solos or not. I would not attend.

Personally, this summer I extended my “bubble” to my mom, my sister, and my sister’s 3 kids. But all of us were not working and staying highly isolated. Now that I am back at work, I will see my mom, but only outdoors and masked. I have also, a few times, gotten together with one or two neighbors or friends, outdoors, at least 6 ft apart, with a one hour time limit. I feel like the time limit really helps minimize risk: you’re less likely to get it if you aren’t exposed for as long, and severity of symptoms seems highly correlated to initial viral exposure, as well. I also have never done more than one “outdoor friend visit” in a week.

Here is a story you can do what you will with: I had a friend who was moving out of state, so I agreed to meet her at a park. We sat outdoors, over six feet apart. About 5 days after we met, she had a bad COVID scare–like in bed with fever. It turned out to be a bad reaction to some antibiotics she was given for a UTI. But here’s the deal–she didn’t call and tell me until a week after her symptoms showed up, because she wanted to get negative test results back so I “wouldn’t worry”. And this is an incredibly sensible woman, normally. People are irrationally ashamed of this stuff, and I think she thought I’d be mad at her.

So in addition to a pact to stay home if sick, there needs to be a pact to report symptoms if they develop. Apparently people choke on that.

I’m avoiding as much as possible.

My father’s funeral was at the end of last week, his wife hired a room at the funeral home for visitation for an hour before going to the cemetery.

Everybody (maybe 25 - 30 people) wore masks, but they sat close together and gabbed up a storm. I’m not much for small talk anyway and funerals aren’t my thing, so I mostly sat way in the corner or walked around the lobby, I have no idea what those people’s everyday safety habits are. For example, my brother is a Trumpie, you think I trust him? No.

There was an outdoor gathering afterwards in someone’s small backyard, with food (so masks off). I stayed long enough to grab one sandwich to be polite and then split.

My wife’s very social, but she’s been limiting herself to visiting a few people, much less often than usual, outdoors, spaced apart. I’d be OK with that myself if I felt the need.

For faux normalcy, no, that is the worst reason. For social contact and mental health relief, yeah. Sitting in lawn chairs outside 8 feet apart would fall under my own definition of safe enough.

No -
I’ve had a couple of socially distanced walks with some people, but that’s about it. Nothing in groups.

My (high risk group) parents have been doing those types of gatherings - outside, everyone wears masks, all 6’ away. I think they’re being idiotic, but so far, they’ve gotten lucky. They’re not part of my bubble.

Those feel like bad reasons to me. I’d feel much better with “we’ll meet in person when the city/county hits certain metrics like # of new cases/day, or the number of new cases trends downward X weeks in a row, or something.” I’d like something more objective than some people in the group saying “I feel ok-ish.”

That depends on what ‘distanced’ means here. 6 feet? Definitely not far enough for extended unmasked talking and shouting. 12 feet? Probably ok if there’s no shouting and everybody wears a mask. 20 feet? Yeah, that’s probably far enough. But how big is this porch?

No masks? Probably not if people will be closer than 6 feet. I’ve attended one dance class in a parking lot where everyone was more than 6 feet apart–more like 10 or 12. I wore a Vogmask the whole time, which was uncomfortable but more comfortable than being dead.


We’ve gone hiking with my SIL, and kayaking with another couple, but both activities are socially distant by design. There’s another couple we’ve had dinner with, outside and at separate tables.

Y, N, maybe?

Uppercase N for us. Where’s the downside to waiting?

My rallying cry (that I mostly use on myself; I’m an extrovert who’d love to be out in the thick of groups of people):
I can wait a year.

I agree with @amarinth that those are semi-red flags.

I’d also say that even among the cautious, I can feel people’s resolve starting to falter day by day. It’s going to lead to a large amount of throwing in the towel.

Combining all of the above:

I wouldn’t go.

This is less due to any specific item of the above than to the combination. The sense I get from the combination of the comments quoted and the fact that some are refusing to wear masks is that there will be at least some attending who aren’t taking this seriously; and they may not be taking it seriously in whatever their other interactions with ‘the outside world’ are. And people who aren’t taking it seriously enough to stay masked and are likely to shout are also, I suspect, likely to come too close to be shouting.

I’ve occasionally though rarely had people come over – we stayed outside, stayed 6’ or more apart, and wore masks. Sometimes when we’ve been 10’ or more apart and the wind’s not behind either of us we’ve skipped the masks; but we weren’t shouting.

So far the most people who’ve been here at a time were a family of four, plus me made 5.

I have been selling at farmers’ markets, and doing my own errands; using masks and as much distancing as practical in all cases. I’m doing my best to avoid other risks, in the hope of keeping total risk down, and also in the hope of keeping level of exposure low even if I do get exposed (or if I’ve already got it but don’t know it.)


These are great answers, y’all. I’m glad a conservative approach is dominating the replies. I’m pretty risk-averse.


Not all that big. I’ll be surprised if seven people can sit 6’ apart.

This X 10.

Yeah, we’re going to see more and more of this.