Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, and traditionally has been filled with backyard barbecues, picnics and gatherings of family and friends outside.

With the coronavirus pandemic, is it possible to have those get togethers?

If people take some precautions and limit the size of those gatherings, the answer is yes, according to Dr. Theo Hensley, a physician with Greeneville Internal Medicine and Family Practice.

With the warmer weather, people are wanting to get outside and enjoy outdoor activities, including those get togethers, Hensley said during a recent local Virtual Town Hall broadcast about the coronavirus.

Governmental and health officials are still recommending that people avoid large groups, so people should keep their gatherings to a small group, he said.

If people do get together for a barbecue or picnic, everyone should continue to follow good hygiene habits, Hensley said.

As a meal is ready to be served, Hensley said that there are two options that can be considered to keep everyone safe from the spread of germs.

One is to have each person to wash their hands immediately before they eat to prevent any cross contamination on serving spoons or tongs, he said.

The other is to have one person filling every plate, after washing their hands, Hensley continued, so that only one individual is touching the serving implements.

If a person is not feeling well, they should not attend a gathering, he said.

Senior citizens or those with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or lung disease, should consider still staying away from gatherings, Hensley said. Older people and those with pre-existing conditions are more at risk of experiencing serious complications from the coronavirus, according to health officials.

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