Celebrating Safely: How to Keep You, Your Family, and Your Community Healthy This Holiday Season

The holidays are traditionally filled with a number of opportunities to celebrate with family, friends, and co-workers. Of course, 2021 has been anything but a traditional year, thanks in no small part to the ongoing pandemic. As we continue to fight COVID-19 and work to slow the spread in our community, it’s a good idea to take a moment to consider what will work best for you and your loved ones this year.

Holiday gatherings
As you plan your holiday gatherings, talk with your loved ones about how you’d like to safely gather this year. In-person or virtual, traveling or keeping close to home, gathering outdoors or wearing masks indoors — talk with your family about the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding safer holiday gatherings, and create your customized plan.

In-person celebrations with only members of your own household or virtual celebrations using online video apps like Zoom and FaceTime pose the lowest risk for infection and spread of COVID-19. Other in-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk, depending on a variety of factors including:

  • COVID-19 vaccination and booster status of guests;
  • The current number of COVID-19 cases both in our own community and in any communities where potential out-of-town guests may be traveling from;
  • Indoor versus outdoor locations (indoors poses a greater risk);
  • The number of guests (more people = more risk); and
  • The diligence of guests in practicing safe behaviors before and during the celebration.

If you are planning an in-person event, it’s a good idea to keep the following tips in mind to ensure that you’re creating as safe an environment as possible:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are able — vaccination remains the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19. Find yours at Vaccines.gov.
  • Limit the number of guests, if possible.
  • Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household.
  • Provide supplies like face coverings or masks, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content, and tissues to help your guests practice safe behaviors (or encourage attendees to bring their own). Consider asking guests to wear masks when not actively eating and drinking.
  • Encourage social distancing and stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live in your household.
  • Ask your guests to practice safe behaviors for 14 days before gathering, including avoiding contact with people outside of their households.
  • Hold your celebration outside if you can. If your event is indoors, consider opening windows and doors as weather allows help with ventilation.

Holiday travel
Many of us are accustomed to traveling during the holiday season, whether it’s a family celebration or a getaway. While travel does increase the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk and help protect yourself and others while traveling, including:

  • Getting vaccinated for COVID-19. Find yours at Vaccines.gov;
  • Wearing a face covering that covers your mouth and nose indoors and in public spaces;
  • Practicing social distancing by keeping a minimum of six feet between yourself and others;
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol when soap and water aren’t readily available);
  • Staying away from those who are sick;
  • Staying home if you are sick; and
  • Refraining from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Like many things this year, the 2021 holiday season will be a bit more complicated to navigate. By following these tips, we can celebrate as safely as possible while ensuring that we’re doing what we can to be COVID-19 safe, protect our health, and make our community – and our holidays – as healthy as possible.

For more tips on celebrating safely this holiday season, visit the CDC website.

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