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 HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

As we plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, we must think of a number of considerations to help protect ourselves and our families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. This year’s holidays will need to be different to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Avoid activities that are higher risk, such as attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your home. Consider fun alternatives that pose lower risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, such as virtual celebrations. If you are planning to gather with loved ones, consider the following:


BEFORE YOU CELEBRATE

Hosting a Holiday Gathering

If you will be hosting a celebration, follow these tips

  • Limit numbers of attendees as much as possible.
  • Host activities with only people from your local area as much as possible.
  • If you are hosting an indoor event, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
  • Provide updated information to your guests about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Provide or encourage attendees to bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
  • If you are planning in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
Attending a Holiday Gathering

If you will be attending a celebration that someone else is hosting, follow these tips:

  • Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, bring extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
  • If you are planning to attend in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, consider strictly avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before the gathering.
Holiday Travel

Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Use information from the following webpages to decide whether to go on holiday travel:

If you decide to travel out of state and return to New York state:

  • You must obtain a test within three days of departure from that state you are visiting
  • You must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
  • On day 4 of your quarantine, you must obtain another COVID test. If both tests comes back negative, you may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.
  • All travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form upon arrival into New York State to contribute to New York State’s robust contact tracing program.

Tips to keep from getting sick:

  • Wear a mask in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you will be around other people.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Get your flu vaccine

Gatherings can contribute to the spread of other infectious diseases. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. It’s not too late.

Influenza Information


DURING THE CELEBRATION

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of being exposed to, getting, or spreading COVID-19 during the celebration:

Social Distance and Limit Close Contact

  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or more from people you don’t live with. Be particularly mindful in areas where it may harder to keep this distance, such as restrooms and eating areas.
  • Avoid using restroom facilities at high traffic times, such as at the end of a public event.
  • Avoid busy eating areas, such as restaurants during high volume mealtimes, if you plan to eat out at a restaurant.
  • Minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, do not shake hands, bump elbows, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet others.

Wear Masks

  • Wear a mask at all times when around people who don’t live in your household to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Avoid singing, chanting, or shouting, especially when not wearing a mask and within 6 feet of others.

Limit Contact with Commonly Touched Surfaces or Shared Items

  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible. Use EPA-approved disinfectants.
  • Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.

Wash Hands

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 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.
Keep Safe around Food and Drinks

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs.

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving, and eating food. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
  • Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
  • If you choose to use any items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
  • Look for healthy food and beverage options, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low or no-calorie beverages, at holiday gatherings to help maintain good health.

AFTER THE CELEBRATION

If you participated in higher risk activities or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions (in addition the ones listed above) for 14 days after the event to protect others:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Consider getting tested for COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately contact the host and others that attended the event or celebration that you attended. They may need to inform other attendees about their possible exposure to the virus. Contact your health care provider and follow the CDC-recommended steps for what to do if you become sick, and follow the public health recommendations for community-related exposure.

If you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results, stay home until you have a result, and follow the COVID-19 guidance on isolation and quarantine to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker may contact you to check on your health and ask you who you have been in contact with and where you’ve spent time in order to identify and provide support to people (contacts) who may have been infected. Your information will be confidential. Learn more about what to expect with contact tracing.

If you are notified that you were a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19

  • Stay home for 14 days from the last time you had contact with that person.
  • Monitor for symptoms of coronavirus.
  • Get information about COVID-19 testing if you feel sick.
source: CDC.gov

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901