Masked volunteers during COVID

Celebrate Safely This Holiday Season

The holiday season, with its tradition of bringing families and friends together, is fast approaching. However, with COVID-19 surging throughout the U.S., how do we keep ourselves and our loved ones safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer valuable holiday guidance to help you lower the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. The CDC recommends celebrating virtually or only with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) as the best way to stay safe and healthy this holiday season and to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Your household is anyone who currently lives with you. People who do not live with you, including college students returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households and pose varying levels of risk.

Are you hosting a holiday gathering?

If you are still planning to host a holiday event, you should:

  • Follow all state and local guidelines pertaining to the size of an acceptable gathering.
  • Celebrate with family or household members only to prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19. Ask non-household friends and family to stay home this year.
  • Host or attend outdoor gatherings, if possible.
  • Wear a mask at all times, except when eating and drinking, and practice social distancing (guests should sit 6 feet apart, even outdoors).
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation. More information on increasing ventilation in your home can be found here.
  • Clean hands often – Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when entering and exiting social gatherings. Make sure there is adequate soap or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol available.
  • Limit the number of people handling or serving food –If serving any food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils. Avoid buffets or potluck meals.
  • Ask family to limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items – Use touchless garbage cans and clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use.
  • Avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors.

Are you going to an event?

If you are planning to attend a holiday gathering, you should also:

  • Prepare before you go – Ideally, you should quarantine for 14 days prior to visiting another household. Stay home if you are not feeling well, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are awaiting test results, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Bring extra supplies (e.g., hand sanitizer, masks, etc.) to help you and others stay healthy.
  • Check the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where the event is occurring, and in the communities where attendees will be traveling from.
  • Consider arriving early or at off-peak times to avoid crowding.

Are you planning to travel this holiday season?

Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, wear a mask (pack extra masks and hand sanitizer) and avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart from others. Washing your hands and avoiding touching your face will help keep you and those around you safer. Also consider whether COVID-19 is spreading at your destination. The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return.

You should also know whether your destination has requirements or restrictions for travelers. Some state, local, and territorial governments have requirements, such as requiring those who recently traveled to quarantine for up to 14 days. Check state, territorial, tribal and local public health websites for information before you travel. If you are traveling internationally, check the destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information page for details about entry requirements and restrictions for arriving travelers, such as mandatory testing or quarantine.

Risk levels for gatherings and events

The year, the holidays are going to be different. The good news is that by staying home and adhering to rapidly changing state and local advisories and protocols, you and your family can stay safe and healthy.

For more information on staying safe during COVID-19, visit loyolamedicine.org/coronavirus, or call 888-584-7888.