Can I tailgate?

It’s football season and that used to mean tailgating. Given the high level of COVID-19 going around, it’s still probably safest to enjoy the game from home this fall. COVID-19 mainly spreads person-to-person when people cough, sneeze, sing, shout, or even just talk. Though being outside is safer than being inside, being in crowded locations, even outdoors, will increase your risk of getting sick. 

If you’re still on the fence, here are some things to consider when deciding whether tailgate:  

  • The number of people. The more people at the tailgate, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. 
  • The level of COVID-19 in the community. The higher the level of COVID-19 in a community, the higher your risk of catching it. 
  • Whether the tailgate has rules on social distancing and mask wearing. It’s helpful if the place your tailgating has a clear policy and enforces it.
  • Whether you or a family member have a health condition that increases your risk. If you or a family member are at higher risk from complications from COVID, then it’s probably not a good idea to go to a tailgate party. (You can bring COVID home, so it is better to skip it even if the person with the health condition isn’t coming.)

And if you do decide to tailgate, here are some tips to reduce your risk:

  • Keep it small and local. Consider sticking to barbecues with your family or social pod.
  • Keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and other groups when you park or set up your tailgate area. Bring some cones or rope to mark out your area so you have a visual reminder of your tailgating space.
  • Stay outside. Do not go into bars or restaurants to watch the game.  
  • Wear a face covering at all times except when eating or drinking.
  • Stay in your tailgating space while eating or drinking.  Do not walk around while eating or drinking and replace your mask as soon as you are done.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently during the day.
  • Avoid sharing serving utensils or food and drinks.  If you are bringing food to share, put together individual servings so people can grab and go. 
  • When using a public bathroom, check out these safety tips.

It’s safest to skip the big tailgate this year. But if you do decide to go, remember to avoid crowds, keep physical distancing, wear face coverings, and wash your hands.

Last update: September 18, 2020 7:00 pm ET
Science review: AGB, JAB, ERS