COVID-19 Tips for Holiday Gatherings

by Delilah Newton | Nov 04, 2020

Centers for Disease Control

As families begin to plan holiday gatherings, please consider the following safety precautions to protect your family and prevent the spread of COVID-19 this holiday season.

The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading. 

Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. 

  • The higher the level of community transmission in the area that the gathering is being held, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading during a gathering.
  • The size of an event or gathering should be determined based on state, local, territorial or tribal safety laws and regulations.

The risk of COVID-19 spreading at events and gatherings increases as follows:

Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.

More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.

Promoting Healthy Behaviors that Reduce Spread
During the holidays, families look forward to gathering together to celebrate and reconnect. However, this year there are additional risk to consider before gathering in groups. 

Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Have a small dinner with only people who live in your household. 

If you are inviting people from outside your household:

  • Limit attendance or seating capacity to allow for social distancing, or host smaller events in larger rooms.
  • Advise attendees to stay home if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days. 
  • Encourage attendees (ahead of the event) to bring and use masks at the gathering. Masks are strongly encouraged in settings where it will be difficult to social distance.
  • Host the event outdoors or in a large, well-ventilated room (open windows to allow for more air circulation).
  • Make hand hygiene a priority by providing soap and water or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Discourage handshakes, fist bumps, and high-fives. 
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces as much as possible—for example, door handles, sink handles, etc.
  • Use disposable gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash.
  • Serve individually plated meals or encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only. 
    • If you’re serving food family-style, consider having one person serve everyone to limit the number of people touching utensils. 
    • If having a gathering that involves food and others from outside of your household, while eating, have members of individual households sit at separate tables in designated areas during the meal and then when finished, re-mask prior to socializing with the others at the gathering.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself

  • Shop online rather than in crowded stores. 
  • Watch sports events, parades, and movies from home.
  • Visit venues where hand sanitizer is used, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and social distancing is maintained. 
  • Attend small outdoor sporting events with safety precautions in place.
  • Avoid over indulging in alcoholic beverages, which can cloud judgement.


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