Submitted by the Washington State Department of Health
Given the high rates of COVID-19 in Washington and around the country, our winter holiday celebrations need to look different than in years past. Many of the ways we traditionally celebrate the holidays include contact with non-household members in large group settings. The Department of Health strongly urges everyone to limit their holiday celebrations to only members of their immediate households.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, it is important to keep the following in mind:
• Wear a cloth face-covering anytime you are with people not from your household. This includes family members and close friends who do not live with you. Make sure the face-covering fits snugly over your nose and mouth.
• Avoid confined indoor spaces. Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities. If participating in an outdoor event is not possible and you choose to attend an indoor event, avoid crowded poorly ventilated, and fully enclosed indoor spaces. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors if possible.
• Wash or sanitize your hands (and the hands of little ones) often.
• Stay home if you are sick or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you are sick, have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, stay home and away from others.
“As the state continues to experience very high COVID-19 activity, now is not the time to let our guard down” said Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary of Health for COVID-19. “We understand that people want to gather with friends and extended family in-person for the holidays, but that just isn’t possible to do safely this year. Many of us discovered creative and unique ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, and we are asking everyone do the same when planning their winter holiday celebrations.”
It is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Some ideas include:
• Organize online holiday gatherings/contests (cookie decorating, gingerbread houses, etc.)
• Host a virtual holiday movie watch party
• Online caroling
• Online shopping
• Holiday hikes
• Bake goods at home
• Door drop gift or treat deliveries for friends and family
• Outdoor activities like snowball fights, sledding, snowshoeing. If done with members outside your household, wear a mask, keep your distance, and keep it small.
Avoid gatherings, events, or parties with people outside of your household that violate the governor’s statewide restrictions that went into effect on Nov. 16. Also, check-in with your local health jurisdiction as they may have additional guidance or requirements.
We are all tired of limiting contact with those we love but this is not forever. With COVID-19 vaccines around the corner, our ability to socialize is very likely to start slowly improving in the spring and may come sooner if we all can interact with each other safely.
For more tips on having a fun and safe holiday season visit: doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/820-110-SaferWinterGatherings.pdf.
Have more questions about COVID-19? Call the DOH hotline: 1-800-525-0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Friday, or 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. For interpretative services, press # when they answer and say your language. For questions about your own health, COVID-19 testing, or testing results, please contact a health care provider.