As we approach the holiday season, our thoughts turn to our traditional gatherings with family and friends—particularly important after many months of required social distancing due to COVID-19. How can you celebrate the holidays without endangering yourself and others? Read on to review a variety of suggestions for slowing the spread of COVID during your holiday festivities.
Small gatherings are safest
Consider limiting your in-person celebrations to members of your own household. For those beyond your household, including college students returning home from campus and traveling family members, virtual celebrations are your safest option.
If you are set on hosting an in-person event, however, we’ve gathered some ideas for increasing safety for all1:
- Ask that your guests avoid contact with people outside of their household for 14 days before gathering.
- Ask your guests to wear a mask at all times, except when eating and drinking.
- Host your gathering outside or open windows and doors for better ventilation, if possible. Of course, this is challenging in winter for much of the U.S.
- Limit the number of guests to ensure they have enough space to stay 6 feet away from others.
- Make it easy for your guests to wash their hands often. Provide hand sanitizer, too.
- Disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use, if possible.
- Most importantly, do not host or attend gatherings with anyone who has COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
Food and drink safety
We do have some good news related to COVID-19. Currently there is no evidence that handling or eating food is directly related to the spread of the virus. It makes sense to take no chances, however, so consider these tips for minimizing risk:
- Ask guests to bring their own food and drink vs. hosting a potluck event.
- Wear a mask when you prepare or serve food.
- Designating one server, wearing a mask, to avoid multiple people handling serving utensils.
- Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled.
- Use single-use plates, utensils and condiments.
- Provide no-touch trash cans.
Reducing your risk while shopping
As you make plans to prepare for the holidays, whether buying gifts or purchasing items for your holiday gathering, a few simple tips can help you stay safe and healthy:
- Do your holiday shopping online and have items delivered or take advantage of curbside pickup.
- For any in-store shopping, aim to do it early in the season so you can avoid crowds. Another idea is to shop early in the morning or late in the evening, outside common shopping hours.
- Use a contactless credit card, if you have one, to avoid physical contact with cashiers or payment terminals.
- Follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask, keeping six feet between you and others, use hand sanitizer while shopping and wash your hands when you get home.
The more safety measures, the better
As we’ve learned over the course of the pandemic, no single measure is completely effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, other than staying at home, away from others. So, the more safety precautions you put in place over the holidays, the greater your chance of remaining healthy. For additional information, visit the CDC website.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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