Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo by By monkeybusinessimages,
courtesy iStockphoto
The holiday season is almost here! For many of us, this is our favorite time of year. We look forward to Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s! But with COVID-19, this year’s holiday season is going to look different. By following these practices, you can have a safe and happy holiday.

Celebrating virtually or just with members of your own household is always the lowest risk activity. Hosting in-person activities will have different levels of risk. The safest option is to celebrate with the people you live with and hold virtual celebrations with others.  

If you choose to host or go to an in-person event, consider these factors that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19

1. Community levels of COVID-19: Check the number of COVID-19 cases and community spread in both the event location and in the places where people are traveling from. If any of those has a rise in COVID-19 cases, consider switching to a virtual version.

2. Community guidance: Follow the guidelines set by your city or state.

3. Location: Indoor, in-person events have more risk than outdoor events. If you must be indoors, open windows or doors to let lots of air through.

4. Time: The longer the event is, the more time people have to spread the virus. Keep in-person gatherings short to lower your risk.

5. The number of people: The CDC does not have a limit or recommended number of people you should have in one place together. Their experts suggest that the size of a holiday event should be decided by how well you can limit contact, risk of spread and by any state, local, territorial or tribal health and safety laws.

6. Behaviors of attendees: If anyone in the group has not been practicing physical distancing, hand washing, mask wearing and other important steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they put everyone at risk. This is true before and during your event.

If you are hosting family or friends from out of state, plan ahead and clearly communicate your COVID-19 guidelines before they arrive

  • Let your guests know that if COVID-19 rates are on the rise in their communities, they should stay home and celebrate virtually instead.
  • You can ask that people travelling get a COVID-19 test before and quarantine between their test and travel to limit their exposure. 
  • Make sure to have an open conversation with everyone involved about the risks and preventative measures so you can set rules for everyone to follow.

If you or someone you live with has been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, do not host or participate in any in-person celebrations! If you or someone you live with is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, avoid in-person events with people outside your home and other large groups. Check the CDC website for more detailed information and guidelines.

Your virtual gathering can still be a celebration! Make it fun and get creative. Get dressed up in the holiday spirit, play games and cook festive food. You can still do Secret Santa over Zoom by planning ahead and mailing or dropping off gifts!

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise again daily, do your part and wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your physical distance of 6 feet!