Safety matters during Memorial Day cookouts

Backyard cookouts have been given the green light this Memorial Day weekend, but local health officials are pleading for Abington residents to use common sense when gathering to prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks. 

“I know everyone is jonesing for a cookout and to socialize again, and that’s important. But it’s also important to remember that Memorial Day is about the men and women who sacrificed everything for their country,” said Abington Board of Health Chairman Chris Schultz. “We are still being asked to make some small sacrifices to our daily routines to protect the vulnerable. I hope people keep that in mind and continue to abide by the state guidelines.”

The Baker Administration on Monday loosened stay-at-home guidelines that had been in place since mid-March citing progress combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Churches, government buildings, hair salons, and non-essential retail are among the businesses and institutions allowed to open up under Phase One of the governor’s phased reopening plan. 

Gov. Charlie Baker said advancing to the next phase of the reopening depends on infection rates continuing to decline. If rates spike again, the state could slide back into a shutdown.

Health Agent Marty Golightly said state public health officials confirmed that outdoor cookouts are OK, so long as other social distancing guidelines are being followed, including wearing face coverings and limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer. 

To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, hosts should be mindful to maintain proper hygiene while preparing and serving food.  Guests should avoid sharing cups and utensils. Children shouldn’t share pool toys, such as face masks and snorkels. And everyone should wear face coverings and wash their hands frequently. 

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