Tips for Dealing with COVID-19 During the Holidays

Learn more about limiting your risk of infection with the Coronavirus and protect others during the holiday season. 

During the holidays, it is important to think about how to celebrate while keeping yourself and family safe from spreading COVID-19. Of course the holidays this year will look different, but it is still possible to celebrate in safe ways. 

Below we will discuss some ways to minimize the risk involved in attending and hosting holidays events this season. 

Celebration considerations

Make sure you check any state and local health and safety laws, rules, and regulations before planning how to celebrate the holidays. You also want to consider unique risks imposed by each person in your event. To help you determine the risk level involved, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the current COVID-19 levels in my area? Check the rate and number of COVID-19 cases in your community, where the event is taking place, and in the community where guests are commuting from. 
  • Consider where the event is being held. Virtual gatherings are the safest. However if you plan on attending or hosting an event, gatherings outdoors are the most safe. For indoor gathering, you can help lower the risk by opening windows and doors to ensure proper ventilation. Gatherings held indoors with poor ventilation pose the greatest risk.
  • How long is the event? Keep in mind, longer gatherings pose greater risk than shorter gatherings. So keep your event short!
  • How many people are attending? The more guests, the greater the risk. Keeping the guest list small makes sure there is enough room to enable guests from different households to stay at least 6 feet apart. Consider keeping indoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people or less, and outdoor gatherings to 25 people at most. The safest option is to just gather with the people you live with.
  • Do you have guests that are traveling? Time spent in airports, bus stations, train stations, rest stops, and gas stations can put your guests at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19
  • Do your guests follow safety and cautionary measures? Gathering with guests that do not follow guidelines and safety measures during or before the event pose a greater risk. Safety measures include: avoiding close contact with others (keeping 6 ft distance, or 2 meters), wearing masks, and hand washing. 
  • Use of alcohol can affect your guests judgement and make it more difficult for them to follow safety measures. 
  • If you feel uncomfortable with the level of risk involved, you should consider canceling, postponing, or not attending. 

Events held in-person: Who should avoid them?

Do not attend or host an in-person event if you or someone in your household:

  • Anyone who has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others. 
  • Anyone that has COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Anyone waiting for results from a COVID-19 test.
  • Individuals who have an increased risk of severe illness with COVID-19.
  • Those who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 2 weeks or 14 days. 
  • If you, someone you live with, or work with has an increased risk of severe illness with COVID-19, avoid in-person events with individuals outside of your household.
  • If you and your loved ones are unable to attend in-person gatherings, you can still celebrate in other ways. Virtual gatherings can help bring people together.

Safety tips for guests and hosts during in-person gatherings

Hosts and guests of in-person events can take several steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Before The Celebration
    • Hosts can provide supplies to their guests to help promote safety. Guests can also bring their own supplies, such as extra masks, hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. 
    • Consider placing 6 feet markers on the floor to demonstrate and encourage social distancing. 
    • You can also ask guests to bring a dry bag to store their mask between uses. 

If a celebration includes people from different households, hosts and their guest should consider strictly avoiding contact with others outside of their household for 2 weeks (14 days) before the gathering. The host should also keep a list of all the guests along with their contact information to trace potential COVID-19 contact. 

During the celebration

It is important for the host and guest to continue to follow safety guidelines and procedures to keep everyone protected and safe from COVID-19 during the event. This part can be pretty difficult if you are trying to celebrate with family and friends. Consider these following tips:

  • Keep safe distances.
    • Avoid close contact with others during the event, especially with those outside of your household. 
    • Avoid gathering around a single table. Provide multiple tables instead or multiple seating areas so that everyone can socially distance at least 6 feet apart. 
    • Consider doing assigned seating for your event.
    • Try to avoid being in busy eating areas and using the bathroom during times of high traffic. 
    • Wave or verbally greet others instead of hugging or shaking hands.
    • When planning adult or kid activities, consider options that allow for social distancing. 
    • WEAR A MASK. You should keep your mask on when you are around other people who don’t live with you. 
    • Avoid chanting or shoutings, especially when you are not wearing a mask and within 6 feet of other people. 
    • Encourage proper hygiene and hand washing. Everyone should wash their hands before or after preparing, eating, or serving food. Make sure to provide guests with plenty of soap and paper towels for single-use in the bathroom and kitchen. 
    • Try limiting the amount of people going in and out of the food preparation area. You can also encourage your guests to bring their own drinks and food for the members of their household only. If that is not possible, you should try to avoid buffet style self serve options or drink stations. Consider having just one person serve the food and shareable items such as condiments and salad dressing. You can also try to provide single services of food and condiments. 
    • If you are preparing or serving food to people outside of your household, you should wear a mask. 
    • Try using disposable plates, utensils, and cups.
    • Disinfect and wash any and all reusable items after the event. 
    • Limit contact with surfaces that are commonly touched. Try to keep commonly touched areas disinfected and cleaned often. Any items that are shared should also be disinfected often. 
    • Use or Provide garbage cans that are touchless.
    • When disposing trash, wear gloves
    • Don’t allow pets to interact with individuals outside of their household. 

After the celebration

If you were in close contact with many people from different households or if you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you should take extra precautions for 2 weeks (14 days). Try to stay home as much as possible and avoid being around those who are at an increased risk of severe illness with COVID-19. After the event, consider getting tested for COVID-19. When you are awaiting the results of your COVID-19 test, you should stay home and follow safety precautions.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms after the event or if you test COVID-19 positive, you should contact the host and guest who attended immediately. This can help prevent or reduce the spread of the Coronavirus by making sure that everyone else gets tested or stays home and away from other people. 

This holiday season involved additional planning this year. Taking these safety precautions may allow you to celebrate and minimize the risk of becoming infected or spreading the Coronavirus. 

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