Celebrating the Holidays Safely

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Southern California at rates not seen since the summer peak. It’s difficult to keep following important public health guidelines, but doing so will save lives and minimize the long-term impact on our community.

During the holiday season, people are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 not as much from strangers as from extended family members and friends, including those who have the illness and do not know it. Public health experts from the County, State, and Federal governments are urging all of us to gather only with those from our immediate households this holiday season, and if we must gather with others to do so outdoors, with masks and social distancing, and to limit the size and time of the gathering as much as possible. Doing so will reduce the likelihood that a gathering turns into a tragic story of how COVID-19 spreads so easily. Here are some more specific guidelines for gathering during the holidays, if you must:

  • Celebrate outdoors with only 2 other households. If you need to be indoors, this should only happen with members of your immediate household. This is particularly important since people take off their face coverings while eating and drinking, which increases the risk for COVID-19 spread. Stick to outdoor gatherings only.
  • Keep your visit short. The longer the duration, the greater the risk of transmission. Limit your visit to under 2 hours.
  • Physical distancing and hand hygiene. The outdoor space must be large enough so that everyone can maintain at least a 6-foot distance from those outside their household – and the more distance, the better. A place to wash hands or hand sanitizer must be available. Remember to wash hands for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Cautions about food from shared containers. As much as possible, any food or beverages at multiple family gatherings should be in single-serve containers. If that isn’t possible, food and drinks should be served by someone who sanitizes their hands frequently and wears a face covering over their nose and mouth. Self-service buffet areas are dangerous in these settings and should be avoided.
  • Travel. The State of California has instituted Travel Restrictions which call for a 14-day quarantine for people coming into California after any non-essential travel out of the state or country. Avoid travel outside of your immediate area.

Looking for ideas for a virtual gathering to help keep your loved ones safe? Check out these ideas below:

  • Have a video or phone call with family or friends as you celebrate.
  • Play an online game together and talk or video call while you play! There are lots of classic games that are free and easily accessible online for your family to enjoy together.
  • Drive by a friend’s house to say hello from a safe distance. You can drop off a gift or food item on their porch and then talk at a safe distance with masks on to wish them a happy holiday season.

With recent vaccine news, there is a lot of hope for light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic in 2021. Let’s not give up now – remember to be smart, follow the guidelines of public health officials, and keep the health of your family, friends, and neighbors in mind as you celebrate the holidays.

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