Dos and Don’ts of Holiday Gatherings During COVID-19

DO limit your guest list.

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As the holidays approach in 2020, one thing’s for sure: They’re definitely going to look different during the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s safe this season, and what’s a no-go for holiday gatherings during COVID-19?

DO consider a virtual gathering.

This option is especially useful in areas that are experiencing a high rate of active spread. In general, in-person gatherings are considered a high-risk activity during COVID-19. Thus, virtual meetings are the best way to keep your loved ones safe. Even with social distancing and masks, gathering with others is never risk-free.

DON’T gather with people outside of your local area.

One of the riskier aspects of holiday gatherings is that people often travel from different cities or even different states. Unfortunately, this provides opportunities for the coronavirus to spread widely. People may become infected at holiday gatherings during COVID-19 and bring the virus back home with them, causing another outbreak in their own community.

DO gather outdoors, if the weather allows it.

Obviously, an outdoor gathering in November is only possible in certain locations. However, it’s ideal because the ventilation reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

DON’T gather if your community has a high rate of infection.

If your community is experiencing an outbreak (as many are currently), it may be too risky to gather at all. Keep an eye on your local or state government website, and avoid gatherings entirely if infection rates are skyrocketing. Depending on where you live, your government may also have restrictions against gatherings of a certain size.

DO keep your guest list small.

Fewer people allow better social distancing, as well as fewer opportunities for the virus to enter the home.

DON’T have gatherings with people at risk of COVID-19 complications.

In-person gatherings may be too risky for some people who have a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. This includes older adults, people with underlying medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and people with compromised immune systems. The safest option for people in at-risk groups is to join the holiday gathering virtually.

DO wear masks when possible.

Mask up around people you don’t live with and when preparing food for others. Masks and cloth face coverings reduce the amount of respiratory droplets (which may carry the virus) that release into the air.

DON’T hug, kiss, or shake hands with people you don’t live with.

The winter holidays are a common time for cheek kisses and bear hugs, but this is an easy way for COVID-19 to spread, unfortunately.

DO consider getting tested for COVID-19 after celebrating.

It's worth repeating that in-person holiday gatherings during COVID-19 are a high-risk activity. Stay home as much as possible before and after the event, and consider getting tested to know your COVID-19 status. Knowing your status can empower you to make the decisions that reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep others safe.

It’s certainly not easy to forgo your usual holiday traditions, especially after such a tumultuous and stressful year. However, there’s no better sign of love for your friends, family, and community members than taking the steps to keep them safe and healthy.