The holiday season is upon us! With Thanksgiving and a slew of other holidays right around the corner, you may be wondering, “How can I safely visit my family and friends?”
Experts say think small. During the worst pandemic in a century, things will look a bit different this year.
So how do you plan a special celebration during such a challenging time? Keep reading to learn more:
Plan for smaller holiday gatherings
The best advice experts can offer at this time is stay at home whenever possible. Plan for a family Zoom call, an online game night, or even a holiday drive-by in your car.
But if you absolutely must see your loved ones in person, keep it small.
The CDC tips for a safe holiday gathering include:
- Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
- Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.
- Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
- Require guests to wear masks. At gatherings that include persons of different households, everyone should always wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose, except when eating or drinking.
- Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
Large gatherings make it too difficult to enforce rules and maintain social distancing. Unless you want your holiday party to become the next super spreader event, keep it to a minimum!
Even better? If you want to meet up with a group of people who don’t live in your household, gather outside!
It may be cold out in the coming weeks, but that’s nothing that can’t be overcome. Dress in layers, add a hat and gloves, and bring a blanket to cover your lap. You can even gather around an outdoor fireplace or patio heater, as long as you maintain social distancing and wear masks.
If weather forces you into a tent or pop-up shelter, consider keeping one side open for ventilation.
To keep food as safe as possible, encourage guests to “B.Y.O.M” (bring your own meat) and cook it over the grill or fire.
Protect Yourself and Others
No matter how you gather, remember: Safety first. The holidays are not the time to start ignoring the safety protocol you’ve observed for the rest of the year.
Remind guests to:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Wear a mask and maintain a six-foot distance from people outside your household
- Avoid handshakes, hugs, and even elbow bumps
- Stay home if you are sick
Keep in mind that you are not obligated to gather with anyone. If you receive any invitations that make you even the tiniest bit uncomfortable, exercise your right to say “no.”
Who Should Avoid Gatherings?
According to the CDC, the following people should avoid all gatherings this holiday season. Anyone who:
- Has or was exposed to Covid-19
- Has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
- Has symptoms associated with Covid-19
- Is waiting for Covid-19 test results
- Is at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19
If you are an older adult or person whose medical conditions leave you at greater risk of severe infection, you should avoid ALL in-person gatherings.
If you are celebrating with friends and loved ones, help drive infection rates down! Wear a mask, wash hands, practice social distancing, and avoid large groups.
Have a safe and healthy holiday season!