You probably know that holiday celebrations, such as Thanksgiving dinners and other get-togethers will likely look much different in 2020 and even 2021 compared to other years, because of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and throughout the world. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have festive traditions and are a cherished and valuable time for gathering with your family and friends.
However, there is no doubt that this year, things will be quite different. This is because you may have to modify traditions in order to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. But can you keep the joy, laughter, and spirit of the holidays alive and stay safe at the same time?
You certainly can with these tips.
Who shouldn’t Attend Holiday Gatherings
Refrain from hosting or participating in any holiday gatherings if you or someone in your home:
- Has tested positive for the coronavirus and hasn’t completed self-isolation
- Has taken a coronavirus test and is waiting for the results
- Has one or more symptoms of COVID-19
- Might have been exposed to somebody with COVID-19 within the past fourteen days
- Is at a higher risk for a severe illness because of COVID-19
Keep Gatherings Small
There is no doubt that gathering multiple households together is likely to be quite risky. Note that this means you should limit celebrations to your household. This includes people that you live with or share a common living area with. Note that if you are a college student, this can be a holiday meal with your roommates.
On the other hand, families should celebrate with just their immediate household rather than including extended family members. And if you want to invite any outside guests, you should try to restrict it to individuals in your community in order to stay safe.
Did you know that travel is one of the major factors in starting outbreaks in local areas? This is why keeping gatherings local will help prevent spreading the coronavirus among different communities and also reduce the risks of traveling.
Handling Food and Drinks
According to experts, there is no evidence that handling or eating food can increase the direct spread of the coronavirus. However, you should stay cautious of touching various surfaces that might have the coronavirus and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.
In order to be safer with respect to handling food and drinks at a gathering, you should:
- Clean as well as disinfect any surfaces where food and drinks will be placed or served.
- Make sure your guests have access to proper facilities to wash their hands or provide them with hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Encourage guests to bring drinks and food for themselves as well as for members of their household rather than having a potluck offering.
- Limit the number of individuals going in and out of all the areas where food and drinks are being prepared and handled.
- Wear a mask or face shield while serving or preparing food for others who do not live in your household.
- If possible, have one individual with a mask and gloves serve all the drinks and food so that multiple people don’t use the same utensils.
Limit Your Time
It is no secret that Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas can be a day-long affair. However, we know and understand that prolonged exposure to other individuals can increase the risk of transmission.
Experts consider it “close contact” if you spend 15 minutes (in total) within 6 feet of an infected individual over a 24-hour time period, starting 2 days prior to the onset of illness. And it is best to set an end time for the get together in order to limit exposure to the virus.
After a Holiday Gathering
According to experts, people who suspect that they have been exposed to the coronavirus at a holiday gathering must take some additional precautions for 2 weeks after the date of the family gathering in order to protect other people. It is best to stay at your home as much as possible.
Also, it is important to avoid being around individuals at a higher risk of severe illness with the coronavirus and also get tested for COVID-19. Note that while you’re awaiting the results of your COVID-19 test, you should stay at home and follow all safety measures.
Keep in mind that if you start to show one or more symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough, fever, and body aches, or test positive for the coronavirus, you must immediately contact your host as well as all other guests who attended the gathering to inform them they might have been exposed too. And if you are not sure about what safety measures and protocols to follow after potentially exposing other people or coming into contact with somebody who has the coronavirus, visit the CDC’s site for guidance. You can also contact your local health department.