2020 has been an unusual and stressful year, and most of us want nothing more than to celebrate the holiday season as we normally do with family and friends. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not over yet, and we still need to be vigilant about taking precautions to keep our loved ones, and our community, healthy and safe.
Dr. Raghavendra Tirupathi, Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at Keystone Health, gives tips for how to safely navigate the holidays and months to come in today’s article.
What is the safest way to celebrate this holiday season?
As much as we miss our family and friends, this holiday season is not the norm. Keeping yourself and others safe, even if that means forgoing in-person holiday gatherings, is likely the safest and smartest thing to do this year. It’s important to remember the big picture – you want to make sure loved ones are healthy and will be here for years to come. This year, the safest type of holiday gathering is one with only family members living in the same household.
If people are going to have gatherings with those outside of their household, how many people should it be limited to, and who?
Gatherings should be limited to less than 10 people and those attending should only be close family members or friends who you know have followed social distancing guidelines.
What are some other precautions people can take to celebrate more safely?
Some other steps you can take to celebrate with safety in mind are: Consider having a small outdoor gathering with a limited number of guests and disinfect surfaces frequently and sanitize items between uses. You can ask guests to bring their own food and drinks to avoid sharing food and serving utensils, or if you are sharing food, have a designated person to serve it, consider single-use options such as disposable silverware, and limit the people in the area where food is being prepared. If you are celebrating indoors, it is a good idea to keep windows open. Speak with guests ahead of time to discuss safety measures so everyone knows what to expect.
It is recommended that travel be avoided if possible. But if someone is traveling, what tips should they keep in mind?
If you must travel, check travel restrictions as these are changing rapidly. It’s a good idea to get your flu shot before going and remember to use good hygiene and social distancing practices. Stay at least 6 feet apart from people who are not in your household, avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth and mask, wash your hands or use sanitizer frequently, and bring extra masks, sanitizer and other needed supplies.
Traveling by car is preferable to traveling by flight, traveling by bus or taking a train. If you are using public transportation, remember to keep your mask on during the trip. Travelers who are staying in one destination should follow local quarantine guidance.
Do you have other advice for staying healthy this winter?
It is also very important that everyone is up-to-date with their flu vaccination. Remember that you can still have a fun holiday season with many non-traditional options. Make this holiday season one to remember with activities like a virtual thanksgiving meal with family and friends who don’t live with you. You can schedule a time to eat together, swap recipes and compare your meals. You can also watch a TV show or movie together, and play games that can be done virtually such as charades.
You can trade your usual Black Friday activities for virtual shopping and contactless delivery, like curbside pickups. Shopping in open air markets is less risky but be sure to stay 6 feet away from others.
Most people are getting tired of restrictions and not participating in normal activities, but it’s of great importance that we continue to be vigilant about following recommended guidelines. It is saving lives.
This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.