The final months of the year contain some of the most celebrated holidays in the United States, and all of them are known for large gatherings, tables full of delicious food, and an increased number of travelers. This year, however, holiday celebrations will need to be handled differently due to COVID-19. While this doesn’t mean traditions must cease completely, it does require some adjustments to keep you and those you love healthy.
Worry and panic are often the responses upon realizing that keeping everyone safe without dimming the holiday magic isn’t as easy as it sounds. Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked to alleviate some stress by developing an extensive list of tips to follow this holiday season. In this article, we’ll go over the best practices that you and your family can implement in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 without missing out on fun.
Before You Celebrate...
Before your holiday traditions commence, there are some things you should consider. If you’re hosting a holiday gathering this year, follow the CDC's tips for being a safe host and consider a few other useful recommendations:
- Plan to host your gathering in the great outdoors. This will allow you and your guests to stay at a safer distance. If the weather is simply too cold, plan to hold your event in a larger, adequately ventilated space.
- Limit the number of guests you invite. Smaller gatherings are considered low to moderate risk.
- Encourage attendees to wear masks. It may also help to provide your guests with disposable masks and hand sanitizer; this way, everyone can enjoy the evening, even if they forget to bring their supplies.
If you’re a guest of the host, try to avoid contact with others 14 days prior. Then, come prepared with your own mask and hand sanitizer; doing so will set an example and encourage those around you to be considerate of others' well-being.
This time of the year typically comes with plans to travel far and wide to be with loved ones, but staying home this year may be what's best for you, your family, and others who are trying their best to stop the spread of the virus. However, if traveling is a non-negotiable, educate yourself on how you can safely accomplish your trip. Once you reach your destination, follow the CDC's basic guidelines on protecting yourself and others around you.
Tips During the Celebration
The holidays are a time to celebrate and be merry; COVID-19 doesn’t change that. It simply changes how we operate. The CDC developed these recommendations to help you avoid exposure and spread of the virus while still enjoying the holidays.
- Try to stay at least 6 feet away from those around you. If you're going out to celebrate, avoid high traffic times at busy establishments.
- Wear a mask over your mouth and nose at all possible times, and avoid singing or loudly speaking/yelling when not wearing a mask.
- Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces and disinfect as often as you can.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds after you've been in a public space.
Another way to celebrate is to make pre-packaged meals for your family or neighbors. Leave the meals at their doorsteps; this is considered a low-risk activity that still encapsulates the giving season. If you’re hosting a gathering, consider having one person serve all of the food and drinks to limit contact via serving utensils. Use single-use plates and utensils as a way to limit contact and avoid dishes.
After the Celebration...
After spending time with friends and family, stay home as much as possible and limit your interactions with people (especially those considered high risk) for at least 14 days. This will give you time to unwind and decompress while also looking out for your fellow neighbor. You should also consider getting tested for the virus if you believe you have come into contact with it or if you start to develop and show symptoms. If these symptoms persist or if your test results are positive, you should contact the host of your gathering and other attendees to notify them so they can seek proper medical attention.
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