At the beginning of quarantine, it may have seemed like we could crush the pandemic quickly if we are simply isolated. Now that it’s clear COVID-19 is here to stay until a vaccine has been produced and circulated, we need to figure out how to socialize safely. Nothing we do is zero risks, but there are holiday safety tips we can follow to minimize our exposure.
The pain of isolation is especially felt over birthdays and now holidays this year. Unfortunately, in recent coronavirus updates, experts have predicted this season to bring a spike in cases as people travel around the country to meet with their family and friends. For the most part, experts are urging people not to travel. However, if you must, there are ways you can keep yourself and others as safe as possible. The basics include, of course, wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands. The holidays bring about different scenarios, however, that we must also prepare for.
- Dealing with Quarantine Isolation
- Holiday Safety Tips
- Covid 19 Infection Rate by State
- Are Hotels Safe During Covid?
- How to Keep Safe During Christmas Dinner
- Virtual Christmas
- Supplies to Have on Hand
- Bottom Line
Dealing with Quarantine Isolation
First, it’s important that we identify the impact isolation has on our health and wellness. It’s normal to want to be with your loved ones over the holidays, even if you know it may put you or someone else in danger. Isolation is very dangerous for your psychological and physical well-being. For some, it may put them in as much danger as getting COVID, according to experts. The holidays always have an increase in psychiatric cases, and this year is likely to be worse due to quarantine.
If you weigh the pros and cons for your particular case and feel you would be too unhappy and stressed being alone, you need to plan how to alter your family traditions to reduce the spread of disease according to the CDC. It’s important to be mentally and socially healthy as well.
Holiday Safety Tips
One of the most important things you can do before gathering with others, is to establish some guidelines to make sure you’re all on the same page. During this pandemic, one of the biggest things I’ve noted is that everyone has their own set of rules they follow that they believe will keep them safe. Some people don’t eat out at all, while others think eating out is fine as long as you eat outside. Other people think they’re safe to work out, but won’t get a massage. The list goes on. Not to mention that each state also has its own rules for what is and isn’t acceptable.
When you’re meeting with your family, consider the following guidelines. These are basic principles that everyone’s holiday gathering should follow.
Outdoor socializing is still better than indoor. This may be harder to do in winter, but it’s not impossible. You might consider doing winter sports activities or utilizing garage spaces so that you can keep the garage door open for increased airflow. If you don’t have any options for outdoor activities, make sure you find ways to increase ventilation. Open windows whenever possible.
Set Up a Pod
As we’ve already established, isolation is mentally and physically draining. To reduce your symptoms, consider forming a group of friends and family that spends time together, exclusively. Make sure your group has the same standards for restricting outside activity and follows the same safety tips for holiday events.
Masks & Handwashing
Both of these are still two of the most important things you can do to stop the spread. Whenever you’re around people outside of your pod, you should always have a mask on. Washing your hands is simply good hygiene and should be done regularly for good health.
Each state has its own regulations and safety tips for holiday traveling. Some put visitors into fourteen-day quarantines upon arrival. You and your family have to prepare for these regulations and be in agreement on how to plan your holidays around them. When you return from your trip, expect to go into another quarantine in your home state. If you have to return to work or school after vacation, make sure you have enough time with all of the mandatory quarantines to get back in time.
You also need to have a plan set up in case you or someone in your pod or holiday gathering becomes exposed to COVID-19 or gets sick. How can you keep your guest isolated in your home for as long as they need? Where can you get tested? These are all scenarios you need to plan for.
Covid 19 Infection Rate by State
Covid 19 infection rates vary by state and are constantly changing. Keeping this in mind, it’s wise to consider whether or not it’s worth it to gather with your family for the holidays. To keep your family as safe as you can, consider implementing the following techniques. These safe travel tips will reduce your risk.
If you’re traveling out of state, consider driving instead of flying. Driving allows you less exposure than flying and decreases your chances of being infected.
If you’re considering traveling to an area of high COVID cases, think about having the family meet up somewhere else, if possible.
Don’t pretend there aren’t risks to meeting up with your family. Have an open and honest conversation with everyone involved to make sure everyone is in agreement about the safety risks and tips over the holiday season.
Are Hotels Safe During Covid?
If you’re traveling, you may be wondering if you can stay in a hotel or if you have to stay with your family. With social distancing and sanitation at the forefront of everyone’s minds, you might be wondering if it’s safe to stay in a place where furnishings and toiletries are reused by each visitor.
According to UCSF, both hotels and rental cars don’t increase your risk of getting COVID. This is because surfaces haven’t been shown to directly transmit the virus. However, there are several precautions you can take to stay safe while staying in a hotel and making sure it is clean and sanitized.
4 Holiday Safety Tips for Hotels
The first thing to check for are portable handwashing stations. The CDC has been strongly encouraging all buildings to place a hand sanitizer at their entrances when they reopen. If a building doesn’t have a hand sanitizer dispenser, they probably don’t follow other protocols either.
Secondly, don’t just choose a hotel because it’s in a rural location and appears safer than one in an urban area. Country towns can be just as infected as cities, and any hotel can be dirty. Neither of these does you any good. Always do your homework first!
Third, although COVID hasn’t been proven to linger in the air long after occupants have left an area, you should check certain high traffic objects. These might include door handles, toilet handles, TV remotes, etc. If the bathroom appears dusty, this is also a sign your room hasn’t been well-cleaned.
Fourthly, if you plan to eat at your hotel, it’s safer to order room service than to eat in a hotel dining room. Eating in a restaurant always increases your risk of infection because you are out around other people without a mask.
Always Wear a Mask
Speaking of masks, you should have a mask on in the hotel lobby and when walking in the halls and elevator. Whenever you’re outside your room, you could run into someone else, and you need to take precautions to protect yourself. Hotel check-ins can be especially dangerous because this is usually where people gather. If you’re worried about this, here’s a savvy holiday safety tip: Airbnb could be a better option, since you’ll have less interaction with other people.
How to Keep Safe During Christmas Dinner
Thankfully, touching food or eating food touched by someone else isn’t directly correlated with spreading coronavirus. It can happen, but it’s not the main way people get it. This doesn’t mean that if you choose to share a family meal you should throw caution to the wind. Mealtime is still the main source of risk for the holidays because everyone will be mask free and probably sitting within six feet of each other.
To reduce the risk of spreading corona during dinner, it’s best that you eat either outside or in a room that’s well ventilated. If you can, sit each family or pod of friends at separate tables and don’t move in between tables to chat. It’s also best to keep your utensils to yourself and minimize the number of people who are handling the food. Have one person serve the meal if possible. It would be even better if you and your friends/family could order food in individual packaging. This way, you would avoid any possibility of getting sick from someone cooking and touching the meal. Although eating food isn’t strongly linked to infecting others, there is a small chance you could contract COVID-19 if an infected person touches your food and then you touch your face, mouth, or eyes.
Obviously, not traveling during the pandemic is still the safest. And there are ways to be social and enjoy time with your family even if you cannot be together. Doing virtual activities together can be a nice alternative, and they’ll boost your mental health and help you keep a festive spirit! Here are some fun ideas to make this Christmas memorable and nostalgic.
Family traditions are one of the most special parts of the holiday season. You may cook the recipes passed down from your grandmother or pick out a tree together. Everyone has their own way of celebrating that they look forward to year after year. If you can’t be together, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon them this year! You might have to get creative, but you can still do them together—virtually—while following holiday safety tips and guidelines!
Zoom calls are great alternatives. You can cook your meal together or show other family members how to make that perfect pie crust. You can even drop off some of your Christmas dinner and dessert to older family members who are at high-risk and can’t meet up with the family. Obviously you should only do this if you can come up with a plan to safely drop them off on their doorstep.
Opening gifts or sharing meaningful notes with each other virtually can be a very helpful way to boost each other’s happiness. If money is a problem because of pandemic-related unemployment, even a thoughtful card can make your family feel valued. Having each other to lean on for emotional support can be very consoling—reducing anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness, and sadness.
Sometimes organizing a Zoom dinner or holiday celebration might be too tricky if you’re all in different time zones or your grandparents aren’t very tech-savvy. If that’s the case, use a group text to keep each other updated on your festivities. Even if you just send each other selfies, pictures of the food you’re making, or pictures of your holiday decorations, it will help you feel more connected while you’re apart.
Supplies to Have on Hand
The CDC has put together a thorough list of safety tips and products that will help you learn how to avoid coronavirus this holiday season. These are things you should stock up on, especially if you plan on hosting other households. The most recent is a no touch trash can, which helps you reduce the spread of disease on commonly touched surfaces.
You should also keep plenty of good and clean disinfectant wipes, extra masks, soap, and sanitizer in your home. If possible, put a portable handwashing station by the door. Ask all of your guests to wash their hands before entering your home.
It’s important to follow the CDC’s guidelines no matter where you do or don’t go. Remember that your mental health is just as important for your physical well-being. If isolation is taking a toll on you, don’t feel guilty for wanting to meet up with your friends and family. There are measures you can take to try to keep yourself as safe as possible. Follow these whether you decide to meet virtually or in-person.