Home for the holidays – Precautions for a safe and healthy COVID holiday

Home for the holidays – Precautions and consideration for a safe and healthy COVID holiday

Getting ready for the holidays in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is an entirely new scenario, especially for families and friends who are including elders in their plans. Once you’ve made the personal decision to bring home a family member or friend for the holidays, there are precautions and preparations that should be considered to protect the health and safety of everyone.

Even a small gathering of close family and friends can contribute to the spread of COVID-19.  Remember that anyone outside of your living circle can get or spread COVID-19 essentially in the same way a stranger can.  For those attending a gathering, avoid contact with individuals outside of their household for 14 days prior to the gathering.

Consider these points to reduce the risk of COVID-19 while creating a memorable holiday.

  • Consider your guest list not in terms of size, but by different households. Public health experts suggest that the size of a gathering should be determined by how many different households (people who live in the same house every day) will be in attendance.  Each household should maintain distancing and remain at least six feet apart.
  • Cover your face, indoors and out. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a mask made of several layers, worn snuggly over your nose and mouth and secured under your chin. People should also cover their face when they are not eating or drinking – and safely store their mask when it’s taken off.
  • Avoid hugs and kisses by maintaining your distance. While it may be difficult to avoid hugs and handshakes, stay at least two arm lengths (six feet) away from anyone who does not live with you. 
  • Let the chefs cook.  Avoid going in and out of areas where food is being prepared or handled, and have one person serve food wearing gloves and a mask. If possible, use single-use options such as salad dressings and disable serving dishes.
  • Stay outside and stay safer. If possible, host your event outside.  If the celebration is indoors, make sure to open windows in advance and during the gather.
  • Don’t forget to wash your hands.  Make sure bathrooms have soap and single-use towels, in addition to hand sanitizer.

While there are precautions you can take this holiday season, the safest option for some will be to stay home. Do not attend an in-person gathering if you or anyone in your household has been exposed to COVID-19, has symptoms, is awaiting test results, or has been diagnosed in the last 14 days.

Be smart, be safe, and have what will certainly be a holiday to remember.