Holidays are indeed best spent making merry with the ones we love. However, the pandemic is still very much a reality, so we can’t just default back to our old ways this coming Christmas. While the lockdown has been easing up in all parts of the country and the world, and we can now travel a little more freely to our loved ones, we still have to proceed with caution. So, here are just a few additional safety measures, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep in mind if you’re planning on having a physical gathering this holiday season. Remember, these are just a few general reminders. Before proceeding with your party, you and your guests must first check the protocols imposed by your respective municipality and community.
Choose your guests
You may feel embarrassed doing this, but now is really not the time to be coy. Surely, your guests will understand. Before inviting anyone, ask them the following: if they’ve had any symptom for the past 14 days; if they’ve had contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus; and what the virus situation is like in their area. Inviting people who live farther away from you may pose a higher threat, so it really is best to invite those who live in your general area for now. Limit the number of your attendees as well.
Hold your gathering outdoors if possible
Gathering in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation is much more dangerous than outdoor ones, so if you have a garden or a yard where you can hold the party, that would be so much better. It would also allow you to practice proper social distancing much easier and more comfortably.
Suggest a variation on the typical potluck
Instead of serving food for all your guests, ask them to bring food and utensils for themselves and the people in their household. While there is really no conclusive evidence linking food handling to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
Remind your guests to bring their own sanitizing materials and have extra at the ready
Just as they’re bringing their own food, let them bring their own masks, tissues, and sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol is a must). Have extra at your disposal for everyone’s convenience, and remind them that sharing masks is a no-no.
Follow the minimum health and safety protocols always
It goes without saying that you and your guests should still follow the prescribed health and safety protocols—physical distancing (at least 6 feet apart), wearing proper masks, and sanitizing your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose as well, and sanitize commonly touched areas. Singing and shouting are discouraged as well, as these activities are known to be super-spreaders.
Get flu shots
While the existing flu vaccine, of course, would not keep you safe from the virus, it would make you less susceptible to flu symptoms. So for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, advise your guests to get flu shots prior to your gathering so you won’t be contagious to one another at the time of the party.
Self-isolate prior to and after the gathering for 14 days
Just to be on the safe side, practice the 14-day self-isolation before the party and after. If you feel a symptom coming on, it is best to cancel the party and get yourself tested. Same goes for your guests.
Source: “COVID-19: Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Updated 4 Dec. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.