The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and upsetting for many people who look forward to the holiday season as a means to connect with family and friends. Traditionally, December break is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. This holiday season however, you should be aware of ways to modify your Christmas/holiday break plans in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe.
With the highly anticipated holiday season approaching, many health experts warn that celebrations will look very different this year. Outdoor gatherings are not feasible anymore due to the cold weather and experts say that traveling out of state to meet with your family could drastically increase infection rates. So how can we spend the December holidays safely this year?
Recent guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns against holiday travel. The agency emphasized that the safest way to celebrate Christmas is to remain at home with only the people you live with. Keep in mind that there are a number of factors that contribute to spreading the virus, including location of the gathering, duration, and number of people. Try to limit the number of people attending any gathering if possible. If you choose to have extended family or friends over, the size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability of guests from different households to stay six feet apart, wear masks, wash hands, and follow local safety regulations. The CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings, although New York State suggests a maximum of ten people.
Eating and drinking around a table may look different this year, too. To date, there is no evidence that suggests eating is directly associated with spreading COVID-19. However, it is possible that a person can contract the virus by touching a surface or object. To mitigate the possibility of exposure, you should encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks for themselves and only touch their own presents or belongings. In addition, it is a good idea to have one person handling everything so that multiple people aren’t touching the same utensils and dishes.
Even if you’re having less family or friends over than usual, that doesn’t mean the holiday needs to be any less special! There are still many ways to have fun with your extended family and friends. Having a simple Zoom call is a great way to see and interact with your family and friends. Go for a socially-distanced walk with a few neighbors to get some fresh air. Try to take up baking! Maybe plan in advance with your extended family to watch a movie and talk about it on a phone call when you all finish. Mail a present to someone! Although this year’s Christmas celebration will be small, don’t forget to take pictures to remember this unique occasion in the future. With all of these safety precautions in mind, we will be one step closer to ensuring a safe, healthy, and fun holiday season for all.