The winter holiday season is a time when a lot of families and friends travel to see each other, have large dinners, attend parades, watch or play sports, throw parties and celebrate together. Many of the activities associated with traditional winter holiday celebrations increase your chances of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home and celebrating safely is the best way to stay healthy. If you choose to celebrate with others and/or travel please take the time to inform yourself of the risks. Anyone who is sick or showing any COVID-19 symptoms should not participate in the activities.
The CDC’s most recent guidance states that as cases continue to increase rapidly across the U.S., the safest way to celebrate the holidays is to celebrate at home with the people you live with. Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19.
Celebrating special holiday traditions with only direct members of your household provides the lowest risk. These activities allow you and your family to celebrate safely:
Use caution when engaging in these activities and remember to take preventative measures:
Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:
According to the CDC, celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses the lowest risk for spread. Your household is anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit (such as your house or apartment). This can include family members, as well as roommates or people who are unrelated to you. People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households.
Check out our risk assessment quiz to help you consider the level of risk with activities and make a more informed decision about how you can reduce your risk of getting COVID-19.
Each family will need to decide how much risk they are willing to take when making holiday plans. By looking into the current situation in your community and the community you might be considering travel to you can start evaluating the risk involved and what steps you can take to reduce that risk. You should also consider the health and safety of any family members who have a higher risk for serious illness.
When having this conversation with your family, remember to approach others with kindness and empathy. Be transparent about your decision and the reasons that led you to them, and don’t be afraid to address any concerns you may have. Repeat these steps and have frequent conversations with your family about your plans and the expectations that come with any family gathering this holiday season.
Keep a record of everyone who attended your gathering, in case this is needed for contact tracing.
The Health Department will identify and contact people who test positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts to discuss the proper steps they need to take. However, due to the volume of cases and the process of disease reporting, these calls can be delayed by several days. Often, friends, family and employers are aware of a potential exposure before the Health Department. If you learn you have been exposed to COVID-19 at a holiday gathering, while traveling, or at any time this season, immediately quarantine yourself to protect others.
Winter holidays are a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved.
Use information from the following webpages to decide whether to go on holiday travel:
If you decide to travel, follow these safety measures during your trip to protect yourself and others from COVID-19: