We all love family gatherings. Especially on holidays. But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the entire way Americans celebrate holidays. People are mostly staying at home to keep themselves safe. Unfortunately, COVID-19 does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.  Family gatherings continue to be events with profoundly higher risks of exposure and spread of the virus. With COVID-19 transmission rates, numbers of cases, and daily death counts reaching historic highs, it remains most prudent to avoid family events and gatherings.

Despite the risks, if you and your family decide to celebrate a holiday, the following coronavirus safety guidelines will be key to reduce the possibility of infection to enjoy a safe holiday.

Here are 6 steps to safely plan your holidays during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  1. Spend A Virtual Holiday: The best way to keep family members safe is to attend no holidays at all. Spend it virtually. Set up your computer or mobile device and encourage your family and friends to connect via video. It won’t be exactly the same as being together, but you will still spend some time with your family and friends.
  2. Self-Quarantine Before The Event: You may be working and using public transport to work. Or you have to go to the grocery store every week. These types of travel may increase the risk of COVID-19 exposures. If you are determined to hold a family event over a holiday, ask everyone to self-quarantine for at least 14 days before the event. And when they travel to the event, ensure they use their own car or a recently cleaned and disinfected car.  Avoid public transportation.
  3. Wash Hands and Use A Mask: Ensure your family members wash hands, wear a mask (except when they are eating and drinking), and use hand sanitizer. Masks block most large droplets and particles and washing hands kills the virus immediately. These two simple measures can help reduce the risk of exposure to a minimum.
  4. Limit The Number Of People: Keep in-person gatherings small. According to the CDC, limiting close face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The virus spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) for a prolonged period. Keeping the gathering small will help practice social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  5. Zero Physical Contact: For now, the handshake is a thing of the past. Because of COVID-19, even world leaders are coming up with other ways to greet people. So should you. Getting too close to people increases everyone’s chances of getting the COVID-19 virus. Children, up to 5 years of age, older relatives, and those with compromised immune systems may be particularly vulnerable. It may be a few months since you’ve seen some family members, but now is not the time for hugs or handshakes.
  6. Keep The Elderly Away: Especially if they are sick. Older adults are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from the disease.  With even minimal exposure to the disease, the elderly may become critically ill and require intensive care. If they still want to spend some time with the family, maintain social distancing (6 feet distance or more), ensure they are wearing a mask, and keep the room well ventilated.

Holidays are not going to be the same again until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. By working together, following social distancing protocols, and wearing a mask, we can ensure we enjoy many more safe holidays with our families and loved ones.