During the holiday season, it’s natural to want to celebrate with others. But given the current COVID-19 pandemic, things will need to look a bit different this year. How can you stay safe while still celebrating with those you love?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus that causes COVID-19 at a holiday celebration. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together.”
Whether you’re traveling, staying home or hosting a virtual get-together, it’s important to know how to make the most out of an unusual holiday season. As the CDC explains, it’s important to consider — and limit — all of your potential risk factors this winter. Follow these tips to ensure a safe and fulfilling holiday season:
Traveling: If you’re planning to travel for the holidays this year, it’s important to take special precautions — not only to protect yourself, but to protect those you’re traveling with and to. Whether you’re traveling by plane or by car, follow these important tips.
- Wear a mask: We see signs about wearing masks everywhere nowadays — and for good reason. This becomes especially important when traveling through busy places like airports or gas stations. Most airports request that guests wear masks from the time they step into the airport until they step out of the next airport. Many airlines also have specific guidelines for which masks are permissible, so make sure to have the correct mask if you’re flying.
- Stay six feet apart: The CDC recommends that you stay at least 6 feet apart (about two arms lengths away) from others to limit any exchange of germs while traveling. Many airlines have also implemented social distancing by limiting capacity on the plane.
- Wash hands frequently: Clean and sanitize your hands frequently and avoid touching your face and mask while you travel. If you’ll be near high-touch surfaces such as filling the gas tank or getting luggage from baggage claim, make sure to use hand sanitizer right away and wash your hands when you’re able.
- Prepare snacks: Try packing snacks for road trips or flights to avoid picking up food that might have come into contact with others. Not only will it save you from unneeded germs, but by preparing food yourself, you can make healthier and more nutritious choices.
Attending Festivities: Once you’ve traveled to your destination, limit the amount of times you leave your place of residence. When you do attend holiday celebrations, make sure to follow these simple guidelines.
- Quarantine: If you’re traveling over the holidays, make sure to quarantine once you arrive in order to verify you’re not sick before going to any group gatherings. The CDC recommends quarantining for up to 14 days before and after travel.
- Get tested: If you’re planning on hosting or attending a gathering, suggest that all attendees get tested a few days before the event. Check with your state of local health department for testing locations near you.
- Bring supplies: If you’ll be attending parties, make sure to bring hand sanitizer, extra masks and any other supplies that may help you stay safe and healthy while socializing.
- Food: You might be attending events where a lot of food is being made and served. To prevent any exchange of germs, you might consider eating prior to the event or checking with the host ahead of time about sanitation methods.
- Avoid busy places: Places like restaurants can have a lot of foot traffic — especially during the holidays. Avoid high traffic locations at busy times to limit any exposure to unwanted bacteria and germs.
- Celebrate Outdoors: While this may not be possible everywhere, the Bay Area climate makes it possible for year-round outdoor events.
Virtual Get-Togethers: According to the CDC, the safest way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to stay home. This can make the holidays seem sad or difficult, but there are still ways to connect with those you love from a safe distance.
- Game night: Through many online resources, you can find ways to talk face-to-face with friends and family. Try hosting a game night through Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype. Many of these programs allow you to not only see and talk to one another, but also share your screens. This makes it easy to play games as a group.
- Movie night: Watch a movie with some of your closest friends — virtually! Whether it’s a family tradition or a holiday classic, you can still find ways to enjoy watching your favorite movies together.
- Dinner party: Whether you’re cutting birthday cake or lighting candles, share special moments together by sharing a screen. You can still have friends over for cocktails, even if it’s not in the same kitchen — try hosting a virtual happy hour!
The holidays might not feel the same this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make memories or create meaningful moments with your loved ones. By taking precautions to keep you and the people around you safe, we can hope for future virtual and in-person celebrations for years to come.
This article first appeared in the November 2020 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.