Fall is here, and many are planning to visit family, go on vacations, and celebrate the holiday season. The upcoming months are filled with celebrations and festivals like Halloween, Día de los Muertos, Navratri, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve- something for everyone!
Unfortunately, this year, the season is marred by the global COVID-19 pandemic that has infected millions and killed more than 210,000 people in the United States alone.
We understand that you want to be with your families even more during this stressful time. So, we collected some tips and guidelines from CDC to help make your holiday season as safe, healthy, and joyous as possible.
Of course, if you develop any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, ensure that you get tested and inform all family and friends with whom you have been in close contact. Avoid gatherings if you’re sick.
Read on to learn how to have a responsible holiday season!
First: Ensure Guidelines Are Being Followed Around You
The same basic guidelines have been issued by the CDC for months: wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, maintain six feet of distance between each other, and avoid large crowds.
Additional guidelines have also been created for airlines, nursing homes, restaurants, schools, and colleges, to ensure that the risk of the pandemic is minimized. One of the first steps you can take is to make sure these places are following state rules. You need to ensure that no one is putting your loved ones at risk.
This is especially true for loved ones in nursing homes. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued guidance for how nursing homes can safely allow visitors, after months of isolation for residents. Under these, outdoor visits are encouraged, and indoor visits are permitted if certain conditions are met.
If you’re visiting a loved one over the holiday season, make sure that their nursing home is exercising due care and caution. If you see any signs of negligence, speak up right away and ensure you have the right legal guidance to take action.
Tips for Hosting
If you’re hosting family and friends for a celebration, you can follow some of these guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Host outdoors as much as possible. Indoor gatherings and events are far riskier.
- If the event is indoors, increase ventilation as much as possible by opening doors and windows, weather permitting.
- Limit the number of guests. If possible, invite guests who live in the same area.
- Have a supply of masks, sanitizer with at least 60 % alcohol, tissues, and hand soap at the ready.
- Consider asking family and friends to self-isolate for 14 days before they travel to meet you.
- Avoid large gatherings if you have elderly people, or individuals with poorer health or underlying conditions, in your family.
You can always check any data about your area or an area you are invited to on your local health department website.
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Preparing Food for Family and Friends
Even though food and eating have not been shown to spread COVID-19, transmission is possible if someone with the virus touches food, food packaging, or utensils, and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.
To avoid such situations, you can take the following steps:
- Avoid potlucks or buffets. Either serve food for everybody, ensuring that no contamination occurs during preparation, or ask guests to bring food and drinks for their own group.
- Avoid letting people into the area where food is cooked.
- Have one person serve food so that multiple hands don’t touch the same serving cutlery.
- Use paper plates, cups, and other single-use items.
Traveling During the Holidays
As families gather from all corners of the country, traveling becomes a necessary evil. Here are some suggestions to make travel safer for yourself and for the loved ones you meet:
- Consider driving with other members of your household, or with friends you trust.
- If you must fly, consider flying on an airline that has better cleaning and hygiene practices in place, like Delta.
- Wear a mask before and during your flight.
- Avoid crowded areas in the airport until your flight, and stay at least six feet away from people not belonging to your group.
- Wash your hands frequently, and carry a hand sanitizer with you at all times.
Spooky season is here, but so is COVID-19. Families need to find ways to still plan fun events while not exposing their children to unnecessary risk. Screaming is, unfortunately, a great spreader of respiratory germs.
The CDC divides Halloween activities into lower, moderate, and high risk.
Some lower risk ideas are pumpkin carving with family, or friends and neighbors at a safe distance; decorating the house; socially-distanced outdoor scavenger hunts; movie nights with family; virtual costume contests; or indoor trick-or-treating.
Some moderate risk ideas are one-way trick-or-treating with wrapped goodie bags placed at a safe distance; small, socially-distanced outdoor costume parades, parties, or movie nights; open-air socially-distanced haunted forest walks; or socially-distanced pumpkin patch or orchard visits.
High risk ideas include traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating; indoor crowded costume parties; indoor haunted houses; or hayrides and tractor rides with non-family members.
Additionally, it’s highly inadvisable to travel to a rural fall festival not in your community if your own area has a lot of COVID-19 cases. It puts the rural community at great risk, especially since medical supplies may be less accessible in such areas.
The CDC also cautions people against using costume masks in place of cloth masks unless there are two layers of breathable fabric which fit snugly around the nose and mouth. Additionally, it warns that you shouldn’t wear a costume mask over a cloth mask, as it might cause difficulty breathing. Just find a Halloween cloth mask instead.
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We Are Here For You
Our team is at your service for every season. We are here to help you keep your family safe.
The additional risks of the holiday season also make it necessary to have proper legal guidance at every step. If you or a family member suffers harm, injury, or negligence, reach out to us for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to answer your legal questions.