Fall and winter celebrations typically include large gatherings of families and friends, crowded parties, and travel that may put people at increased risk for COVID-19. Here are some guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to consider if you are hosting or attending a holiday celebration.
Host or attend outdoor activities, rather than indoor, as much as possible. If hosting or attending an outdoor event is not possible and you choose to go indoors, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that it is safe and feasible based on weather.
Limit the number of attendees and host/attend activities only with people from your local area as much as possible. Remind invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. Invited guests who live with those at a higher risk should also consider the potential risk to their loved ones. Consider keeping a list of guests who attend for future contract tracing needs.
Limit close contact. When saying hello or goodbye, minimize gestures that promote close contact. Don’t shake hands or hug; instead, elbow bump, wave, and/or verbally greet guests. Arrange chairs to allow for social distancing. People from the same household can be in groups together and don’t need to be 6 feet apart – just 6 feet away from other families. Wear masks when less than 6 feet apart from people or when indoors.
Prioritize infection-control. Properly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when entering or exiting social gatherings. If hosting, make sure adequate soap or hand sanitizer containing at least 60-percent alcohol is available in restrooms. Consider providing cleaning supplies that allow guests to wipe down surfaces before they leave rooms. Limit going in/out of areas where food is being handled. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.
Choose single-use items when possible. Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands, and individual salad dressing packets or condiment packets. If serving food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
Consider alternate ways to celebrate. Travel increases the risk of acquiring or spreading COVID-19. Instead, consider having a smaller group dinner with only people who live in your household. Prepare traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others. Have a virtual dinner, and share recipes with family and friends. Watch sports events, parades, and movies from home.
Remain diligent, even after the celebrations are over. If you participated in a high-risk activity, or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to protect others, avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and consider getting tested for COVID-19. If you are planning to shop on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday, shop online rather than in person.
If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or if you test positive to COVID-19, immediately contact the host and others that attended the event.