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Small and Large Gatherings

CDC is in the process of updating this page to align with the new COVID-19 Community Levels. Updates will be posted here when available.

Small gatherings are informal and may occur with family and friends you regularly socialize with, often at someone’s residence. They typically do not involve long distance travel. These social gatherings are more intimate with close friends and family, such as small holiday parties, family dinners, and special celebrations.

Large gatherings bring together many people from multiple households in a private or public space. They are often planned events with a large number of guests and invitations. They sometimes involve lodging, event staff, security, tickets, and long-distance travel. They might be conferences, trade shows, sporting events, festivals, concerts, or large weddings and parties.

Things to Think About When Planning Activities

What are the number of COVID-19 cases and vaccinated people in your community or the community you are visiting?

  • Use CDC’s COVID Data Tracker to learn about the situation in your community.

  • If your community has a high number of COVID-19 cases or a low number of fully vaccinated people, consider choosing safer activities.

COVID-19 by County: COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help you and communities decide what prevention steps to take based on hospitalizations and cases. Check your community level.

What are the local and business laws, rules, and regulations?

  • Be sure to follow laws, rules, and regulations made by businesses and federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial agencies.

Where are you going?

  • If you want to spend time with people who don’t live with you, outdoors is the safer choice. You are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 during outdoor activities, even without the use of masks.

  • Good ventilation can help prevent you from getting and spreading COVID-19.

  • Avoid crowded places where you cannot stay 6 feet away from others.

Who will be with you?

  • Be sure to get everyone in your family ages 5 years and older vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • People who are not vaccinated and those who are not able to get a COVID-19 vaccine (including children ages 4 years and younger) should continue taking steps to prevent getting sick.

  • If your family member is younger than 2 years old or cannot wear a mask, limit visits with people who are not vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown and keep distance between your child and other people in public.

  • People with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness.

  • If you have or live with someone who has a weakened immune system or is at increased risk for severe disease, you might choose to wear a mask in all indoor public settings regardless of the level of transmission in your area.

Steps Everyone Can Take to Make Gatherings Safer

If you are attending a gathering, think about the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.

  • Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.

  • In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors.

  • If you are sick and need to be around others, or are caring for someone who has COVID-19, wear a mask.

  • If the COVID-19 Community Level where you live is

    • Low

      • Wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.

    • Medium

      • If you are at risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about wearing masks indoors in public.

      • If you live with or will gather with someone at risk for severe illness, wear a mask when indoors with them.

    • High

      • If you are 2 or older, wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk (including in K-12 schools and other community settings).

  • If you are at risk for severe illness, wear a mask or respirator that provides you with greater protection.

  • Testing before a gathering can give you information about your risk of spreading COVID-19.

    • Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who do not live in your household.

    • Stay home if you test positive, even if you do not have symptoms.

  • Stay home if you are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Communicate with the people you will meet with about prevention strategies.

What to do if You Become Sick after Attending a Gathering

  • Attending a large gathering or event increases your chance of being in close contact with people outside your household and being exposed to COVID-19.

  • If you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19:

    • Know when to quarantine or isolate.

    • Get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact.

    • Monitor your symptoms.

    • Know how to talk to your close contacts from the gathering.

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