It’s possible you’ve been eating a lot of meals alone or in the company of virtual friends and family.

So the idea of a summertime barbecue might sound pretty inviting.

But is it safe to do something like that?

Yes. But you’ll have to add some party rules.

Instead of soliciting the advice of, say, ultimate hostess Martha Stewart, the coronavirus pandemic calls for calling in Robin Johnson, El Paso County Public Health’s medical director.

Johnson provided some tips for having a barbecue — or similar event — while staying safe.

First off, you’ll still have to keep the party small. Under Colorado’s public health order, private gatherings at homes should be limited to 10 people.

Same deal if the gathering is happening at a public space, such as a park.

And it’s worth noting that a new public health order could expand the rules for private gatherings, said Michelle Hewitt, El Paso County Health’s public information officer.

Still, Johnson says “smaller gatherings are better.”

No matter how many guests attend, she recommends everyone wear face coverings when in close proximity.

If masks are off, social distancing is more important.

“Think through the logistics of how you will ask and ensure physical distancing, particularly if guests are not wearing face coverings, for example, when eating or drinking,” Johnson said.

If possible, she says to “keep the gathering outdoors, where there is better ventilation.”

While a family meal might normally include sharing plates, Johnson says that’s not the best route.

“When thinking through food and other shared items, be cognizant of providing appropriate tools and separation while gathering your meal,” she said. “And making sure not to pass or share from common bowls.”

Throughout the gathering, Johnson offers some familiar advice: frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Perhaps most importantly, Johnson urges hosts to “keep in mind if there are any high-risk individuals” and tell anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home.

Try, for example, “putting out a reminder for your guests to consider their own risk factors and what the party will look like so they can make informed decisions about whether or not to attend.”

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