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Hosting Holiday Gatherings during The Pandemic

The pandemic has changed our lives in any number of ways, and holiday gatherings are no exception. Many families are deciding to skip the traditional dinners  instead of gathering as usual. If you do decide to host a gathering for the holidays, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have some suggestions:

Thinking ahead can save lives. Remind guests to stay home if they are sick, have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone who has had close contact with a person who has COVID-19 should also stay home and monitor their health. Invited guests who live with those at higher risk should also consider the potential risk to their loved ones.

Additionally, the CDC suggests, consider keeping a list of guests who attended for potential future contact tracing needs if someone at the gathering does contact COVID-19.

Encourage social distancing.

The weather will probably make it impossible to host your gathering outdoors, but if you can’t do that, make sure the room or space is well-ventilated by, for example, opening a window.

Arrange tables and chairs to allow for social distancing. People from the same household can be in groups together and don’t need to be six feet apart – just six feet away from other families.

If you’re planning activities for adults and/or kids, consider those where social distancing can be maintained, like sidewalk chalk art or frisbee.

When guests arrive, minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, don’t shake hands, do elbow bumps, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet them.

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Wear masks

Wear masks when less than 6 feet apart from people or indoors.

Consider providing masks for guests or asking them to bring their own.

Clean hands often.

Consider providing hand sanitizer in addition to clearly marked hand washing areas. The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds when entering and exiting social gatherings. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Make sure there is adequate soap or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol available in the restrooms and encourage guests not to form a line at the door. Consider also providing cleaning supplies that allow guests to wipe down surfaces before they leave.

Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.

Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.

Limit the number of people handling or serving food

Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks.

Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.

If serving any food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people aren’t handling the serving utensils.

Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, and condiments, so that multiple people are not handling the items.

Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items

Use touchless garbage cans or pails.

Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.

Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.

If you choose to use any shared items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash, clean, and sanitize them after the event.

For more information from the CDC on COVID-19, click here.

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