This year, the holidays are looking a little different. To protect those we care most about amidst surging coronavirus cases we need to make sure we are celebrating the holidays with safety in mind. Following public health recommendations for social distancing, travel and safe ways to gather can make the holidays memorable without harming your family, friends and community.
Keep It Small
While big, shared meals are the holiday standard, this is the year to forgo a large table for a small affair. The easiest approach to the holidays is to keep it within members of your household. Outside of your immediate living situation, the family or friends who you “pod” with (a social circle with a mutual restriction on outside contacts) can also be included in a shared mealtime without additional quarantine concerns.
Adding households outside your own home and pod can make a holiday meal more of a health risk. Many states are currently limiting gatherings to prevent spread of the virus. Including members of any household whom you don’t pod with means taking quarantine and health restrictions seriously. This includes forgoing bodily contact and maintaining social distancing, as well as a 2 week quarantine before the holiday.
Protect Vulnerable Guests
For many people, a coronavirus infection manifests as mild flu-like symptoms, but far too often it develops into a serious and life-threatening disease. So far, over 250,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, and with the new surge of cases, hundreds are dying every day.
Certain demographics are more likely to face serious complications from the virus including people over 65 and those with pre-existing heart or respiratory issues, asthma and diabetes.
Those at higher risk need to take precautions with the upcoming holiday. If you or a member of your household is older or at risk for coronavirus complications, limit your holiday plans to your immediate household – being safe now means that those you care most about are safer.
For guests outside your immediate circle, you’ll want to take quarantine precautions. All members of all households should maintain a strict quarantine for at least 2 weeks before the holidays. Even with quarantining, it is best to wear masks at all times when not eating and to maintain social distancing between households. Your eating area should be able to separate guests by the recommended 6 feet. Food should also be served away from the table where eating will occur.
When proper quarantining cannot occur, forgo eating together for a socially distanced outdoor visit or a phone call or video chat.
Living in Arizona has the advantage of our temperate November weather which means a holiday dinner can be held outdoors. Outdoor areas are safer than indoor areas when it comes to coronavirus safety. The virus is carried in small water droplets we expel from our mouths everytime we breathe or speak. In outdoor areas, these droplets are dispersed in the surrounding air making it less likely others will be critically affected.
Indoor areas, by contrast, allow droplets to accumulate in the air. If an infected person is expelling droplets into an enclosed room over the span of several hours, risk of others sharing the space contracting the virus increases greatly. Take advantage of your patio and the Arizona climate this year for an outdoors holiday celebration, where virus transmission risk can be reduced especially when also observing social distancing.
Instead of a busy holiday kitchen, this is a year to pare down the cooking crew. Holiday chefs should be from the same pod or wearing masks when working in the closed confines of the kitchen. Wash hands frequently when preparing food, clean all surfaces and resist the temptation to taste food as you prepare it. This year it will also help to design a menu where many items are simple to prepare or can be made in advance to avoid many people gathering in the kitchen.
Once the meal is served, avoid sharing bites or trading plates with others and wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
Patio Screens for Your Holiday Hang
Celebrating a holiday during a pandemic surge doesn’t mean the holiday is cancelled – it just means we need to connect with each other in safe and healthy ways! A safe holiday this year means a reason to celebrate in the future!
If you’re planning on having a gathering on your patio, consider the comfort and protection of our patio screens! Contact us today to learn more.