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Understanding Risk: COVID-19 & Christmas

Health experts share advice

This year, the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays occur in the midst of a global pandemic, including an alarming surge in cases of COVID-19 in our community and across the country. Health experts suggest that this latest stark rise in cases and hospitalization is attributable to traveling and gathering over the Thanksgiving holiday and subsequent community spread.

While we all want to find ways to share in the joy and traditions of Christmas, understanding and mitigating the risks associated with various holiday activities is critical to keeping you, your family and the community at large safe.

In addition to the standard advice to avoid large gatherings, watch your distance, wear a mask and wash your hands, there are additional ways you can protect yourself and others. Health experts have put together this guide to help you and your family understand the various levels of risk associated with certain holiday-related activities. We hope you find this information helpful as you make plans this year.

COVID-19 Safety for the Holidays

Christmas is a time when many families travel and gather to celebrate together. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Lower risk activities

  • A small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Preparing family recipes for family and neighbors and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
  • Calling friends and family during dinner and sharing recipes through email or text
  • Shopping online
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home with those who live in your home

Moderate risk activities

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
    • Outdoors is safer than indoors; gather in a garage with doors open or on a porch
    • Wear a face mask when around anyone who does not live in your home
    • Stay at least 2 arm lengths from others and wash hands often
    • Don’t touch your face mask, eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Don’t sing or shout, especially indoors. Keep music levels down so people don’t have to shout to be heard
    • Have one person (wearing a mask) serve all food

Higher risk activities

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores
  • Attending crowded parades, events or concerts
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can make you less likely to follow good health guidelines
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household

If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person festivities. When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or reduce the number of attendees.

Learn more holiday tips at cdc.gov/coronavirus

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