As we get further into the holiday season, many are wondering how to safely celebrate in the time of COVID-19. Pending forthcoming additional state guidance, Placer County Public Health is sharing some tips to help community members start thinking about ways to connect during this meaningful time of year while giving the gift of health to our loved ones.
Consider safer alternatives
The safest gathering is a virtual gathering. Here are some other ideas to spark your imagination ahead of the holiday season:
- Host a feast with just the people living in your household. Check in with other loved ones virtually and swap recipes.
- Prepare traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
- Watch holiday movies with members of your household.
- Participate in drive-through activities, such as driving by neighborhood holiday lights.
- Try to avoid crowded shopping environments by ordering items from businesses ahead of time for curbside pickup – and don’t wait until the last minute.
Safer holiday gatherings
Gathering with people outside your household increases risk of coronavirus transmission. If you choose to gather for the holidays, here are steps you can take to lower you and your family’s risk:
- Limit holiday travel. If you do travel:
- Get tested before traveling and quarantine while awaiting results.
- Consider the level of transmission where you are traveling as well as your own and your fellow travelers’ risk of developing serious illness due to age or underlying conditions.
- Safest travel would be by car.
- If you fly, wear a mask and keep your distance at the airport and on the plane. Bring wipes and sanitize your seating area.
- Keep gatherings small and short, with a limited number of households participating. (See state gathering guidance.)
- Keep gatherings stable; that is, do not participate in multiple gatherings with many different households.
- Stay outside – with outdoor heaters or firepits as needed – or in well-ventilated areas. If you must gather indoors, consider opening windows despite the added heating costs.
- Wear masks and keep physically distant (at least 6 feet apart) from others not in your household.
- Consider self-quarantine and testing prior to and following gatherings (remember, if you know you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you still need to quarantine for a full 14 days even with a negative test).
- Stay flexible. Have a Plan B in case someone develops symptoms or becomes a case or contact. Be ready to include loved ones virtually and keep everyone safe and sound.
- Avoid parades, festivals, large gatherings and any crowded indoor environment.
“Remember, when we wear a mask or forgo a higher risk activity, we aren’t just protecting ourselves, we’re giving a gift to all of those people around us who might suffer more if they are infected with the virus,” said Health and Human Services Director and Interim Health Officer Dr. Rob Oldham.
Some loved ones may be uncomfortable celebrating the holidays in any way this year, and we ask that you respect their wishes and concerns. Everyone is navigating the COVID-19 pandemic to the best of their abilities and has different comfort levels about what is safe to do.
In addition, the holidays can be a time of added stress for some. If you or someone you know are experiencing mental health struggles, here are some resources in addition to services that your health care provider may offer:
- For mental health emergencies/treatment call: 1-888-886-5401
- For Family and Children’s Services call: 1-866-293-1940
- Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- COVID-19 Peer-Run Warm Line: 1-855-845-7415