Navigating the Holidays Safely This Year

The holiday season is a special time to come together with friends and family to reconnect and celebrate. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented risks to partaking in traditional social gatherings and remains a top concern across the nation. With that said, it is essential to consider and prioritize your health and the health of others in the coming months.  

Regarding traditional gatherings and holiday planning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following considerations, meant to supplement — not replace — any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety rules and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply.

Considerations for Small Gatherings

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses the lowest risk for spreading COVID-19. As you contemplate your holiday plans, it is important to take into account the following factors that influence the health of those seated at your table:

Community Levels of COVID-19 When deciding whether to host or attend a gathering, family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and where they plan to spend the holidays. Information regarding the number of cases in an area can often be found on your local health department website.

Exposure during Travel Airports, bus stations, train stations, gas stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. Gatherings with travelers pose a higher risk than attendees who live in the same area.

Location of the Gathering Indoor gatherings (i.e. small, enclosed spaces with no outside air flowing), especially those with poor ventilation, pose more risk for COVID-19 spread than outdoor gatherings.

Duration of the Gathering Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings. Being within 6 feet of someone who exposes symptoms of COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more can greatly increase the risk of others becoming sick.

Number of People at the Gathering The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability of attendees from different households to stay 6 feet apart, wear masks, wash hands, and follow state and local health and safety rules. Keep in mind, your state health officials may have issued an order on limiting gatherings to a certain amount of people.

Behavior prior to the Gathering — Be aware of individuals who do not consistently adhere to CDC preventive behaviors (social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, etc.). These actions pose more risk for individuals than those who have adhered to the CDC’s safety measures.

Behavior during the Gathering Gatherings with additional safety measures in place pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented. Consider fun alternatives that keep everyone safe, while still being able to enjoy time together.

Consider these safety recommendations to ensure safe celebration this holiday season! To learn more about safe, alternative ways to celebrate this time of year, click here.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy.