Traditional holiday gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. Follow these tips to make your holiday safer.
The safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend time with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer.
Everyone can make the holidays safer
Everyone can take small actions to make the holidays safer, no matter where they are. Below are tips to remember this holiday season:
— Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19. Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.
— Stay at least 6 feet away from people who do not live with you. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu. Keeping 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
— Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds each time. Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Wear your mask the right way
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people wear masks in public settings, such as mass transportation, at events and gatherings and anywhere they will be around other people. Masks should not be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. For all others, remember this guidance when wearing masks:
— Wash your hands before putting on your mask.
— Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
— Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
— Don’t put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead.
— Don’t touch the mask, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect.
— Take off your mask carefully when you’re home. Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops. Handle it only by the ear loops or ties. Fold outside corners together. Place the mask in the washing machine. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing your mask and wash your hands immediately after removing it.
Attending a gathering
In addition to following the guidance listed above, take these additional steps if you plan to attend any holiday gathering:
— Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils.
— Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
— Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
— Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates and utensils.
Hosting a gathering
If having guests in your home, require others to follow the guidance listed above. Other steps hosts can take include:
— Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends in your community.
— Limit the number of guests.
— Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
— Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
— If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows.
— Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
— Have guests bring their own food and drink.
— If sharing food, have one person serve food, and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.
Traveling for the holidays
Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. But, if you must travel:
— Check travel restrictions before going.
— Get your flu shot before you travel.
— Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation.
— Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household.
— Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
— Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth.
— Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
Consider alternative holiday activities
As the pandemic prevents close interaction among groups of people, families should consider alternatives to their traditional holiday activities. For example, you can:
— Host a virtual meal with friends and family who don’t live with you.
— Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing or other dishes they prepared.
— Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others, like leaving them on the porch.
— Watch parades, sports and movies at home.
— Play games with people in your household.
— Shop online instead of in-person.
— Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up.
— Shop in open-air markets, staying 6 feet away from others, and wear a mask.
— Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.
(Editor’s note: Information for this article is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and can be found at https://www.cdc.gov.)