Are potluck-style gatherings safe during pandemic? Officials explain.


Fireworks shows may be canceled but parties will be carrying on this 4th of July weekend. In Hawaii especially when there’s a gathering, there’s food. So what are the risks concerning the food table?

The Department of Health Food Safety Branch Manager Peter Oshiro tells us COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness which means it’s not transmissible through food. The problem is not the food but the social behavior associated with it.

“So it’s people getting together in close proximity with each other for long extended periods of time, especially at parties and family gatherings. So again, we really have to be conscious and not infect each other,” said Oshiro.

According to the CDC, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose. This includes food or food packaging, but it’s not the main way the virus spreads. The CDC says “there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19.”

Oshiro recommends staying away from sharing utensils.

“Anything you want to avoid to not pass around even a common cold you would exercise the same common sense,” he said. “It’s a good idea in the buffet line not to put out common utensils. Also maybe have one person serving everybody.”

If you plan on hanging out at the beach, the CDC recommends beachgoers wear a mask but not when they’re in the water.

“We have noticed an alarming rise in new COVID-19 cases in a number of states across the continent. Those coincide with a relaxing apparently,” said Dr. Kalani Brady from the John A. Burns School of Medicine. “In Hawaii, we still have our recommendations which are important to prevent COVID-19 cases from occurring.”

Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said on Tuesday whatever happens this weekend, the case numbers will be reflected between July 10th and 20th. That’s about 10 days away from August 1st when travelers who test negative prior to arrival won’t have to quarantine.

“It would really be good to have the lid on as that happens because I focus a lot of energy keeping pre-testing as solid away, to keep us safe as possible and I don’t want to mix these two different problems,” said Green.

For information about food and the Coronavirus, click here.

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