COVID-19 Tips to Stay Safe During the Holidays

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This year has been quite different from what we consider to be “normal.” COVID-19 has bought about many changes and cancellations of events and gatherings, and as the year continues to go by and the holidays are upon us, a lot of questions, concerns, and differences of the usual holiday gatherings come along as well. Below are suggestions on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving in the midst of COVID-19.

Any gathering comes with some risk and the safest way to celebrate is at home with people in your current household. However, if you’re willing to take some risk, there are ways to limit the possibility of transmission and minimize the chance of getting yourself or others sick.

Ask How Many People Will Be There

First and foremost, if someone is sick, they should absolutely stay home. It’s also important to consider whether or not the guest list includes someone who is high-risk or lives with someone who is a high risk for contracting COVID-19. You may want to consider whether this celebration outweighs possibly getting a high-risk loved one sick.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t list a specific number, they do recommend having a limited guest list at Thanksgiving. Not only does this help reduce the risk of exposure, it will make it easier to contact trace should someone get sick. A small group of people and households who agree to keep any mask less interactions within their bubble — to no more than three families and less than 10 people, including both adults and children.

If Weather Allows, Celebrate Outdoors

As per recently updated guidelines, the CDC recommends outdoor gatherings for Thanksgiving 2020. If outdoors is not an option, windows and doors should be opened inside to improve air circulation. Research shows that opening multiple windows — the wider, the better, and in every room if possible — can increase the air exchange rate.

Clarify How Food Will Be Served

While there’s no evidence of COVID-19 transmission through food, per the World Health Organization, there is some risk in pot-luck style meals where multiple people gathered around the same area at the same time. It is recommended not to have buffet style serving, but to have 1 person in charge of serving the food to everyone. Avoid sharing and passing dishes and utensils. Be mindful about touching water pitchers, bottles, and drinking glasses handled by others. Wash hands frequently. Place disposable paper towels in the bathroom so your guests aren’t sharing the same hand towel. Space your guests so they aren’t crowded around a table.

Socially Distance as Much as Possible

Because COVID-19 can spread through breathing and talking, per the CDC, maintaining a safe distance from other unmasked people at any gathering is crucial. Space out your guests as much as possible.

Wear Masks During Downtime

All guests should wear a mask when not eating. Screaming and cheering increases the amount of viral particles that a person emits, so skip the big game or at least wear a mask while you’re watching it.

While Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season of 2020 are different and difficult it is most important that you do all you can to protect yourself and your family during this time. Please follow the tips above as well as guidance from the CDC and your local affiliates. Even though this year has bought about many changes and challenges still remember to be Thankful and Joyful during this Holiday Season. Happy Thanksgiving!


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Written By

Dominque Simon, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDominque SimonArea Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences - Food- Safety, Health and Nutrition Call Dominque E-mail Dominque N.C. Cooperative Extension, Franklin County Center
Posted on Dec 31, 2020
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