The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday, June 12th, that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over as states ease restrictions meant to curb its spread. “I know that people are eager to return to normal activities and ways of life,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said on a call with reporters Friday during the agency’s first general press briefing on the virus since March 9. “However, it’s important that we remember the situation is unprecedented, and the pandemic has not ended.”

The CDC guidance issued Friday is to help people resume their daily lives and attend events and gatherings more safely amid a backdrop of rising COVID-19 case counts in 22 states and upticks in hospitalizations in at least a dozen since Memorial Day.

The guidance recommends that people attending gatherings use proper hand hygiene, wear cloth facial coverings and maintain social distancing, or keeping a 6-foot distance from others, when possible. It says attending virtual events is the lowest-risk option, while the highest-risk is attending a large, in-person gathering where it’s difficult to keep 6 feet apart from others and people from different communities are attending.

The CDC did not provide a recommended limit on the number of people at mass gatherings as officials did in March when the nation began to lock down to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC recommends that as people begin to venture out in their communities, they consider how many people they’ll interact with, whether they can maintain a space of 6 feet between them and how long they’ll be interacting with people. 

Social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing face coverings in public continue to be the main ways to reduce the spread of the virus. The new guidance also recommends site-specific steps in addition to these. For instance, restaurant patrons also should check that staff are wearing masks, make sure tables are spread out, and outdoor seating is available.

Likewise, at cookouts, stay outside if possible and encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks. At gyms, avoid group training sessions when possible, and don’t use equipment that can’t be cleaned between each user. In hotels, look for online checking-in and payment options, ask about policies for disinfecting facilities and minimize the use of common areas including elevators, pools, and dining areas. The guidance for going out in the community is available at https://bit.ly/3fk89dA, and guidance for events and gatherings is at https://bit.ly/2XTFqGJ.