In places with chilly winter weather, the usual reprieves from the cold—cozy indoor gatherings and vacations to warmer climes—will come with significant risks, but going outside and meeting others will still be okay if people keep proper distance and wear a mask. “It may not be spreading a blanket in Central Park and having a picnic, but certainly there are outdoor activities that one can [do],” says David Vlahov, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Nursing. Going on a walk with a friend or having a snowball fight seemed relatively safe to him. (He was not as keen on sledding with multiple passengers.)
Perhaps the safest way to gather in someone’s home, as unpleasant as it might sound, is to make the indoors more like the outdoors. Marr told me that her family doesn’t plan to have any guests inside their house during the pandemic, but may convene winter gatherings in their garage, with the “door open and a heat lamp, with hats and gloves and maybe bundled in sleeping bags.” She also suggested getting together with people outdoors around a bonfire or under heat lamps.
Similarly, Jha told me that for close friends, he could imagine opening up the windows in his house and letting in fresh winter air in order to have them over. “It’ll be painful for a couple of hours, but we’ll sit and at least get a chance to chat,” he said. “Then [they’ll] leave and we’ll close everything up and turn the heat back on.”