This high season, many families are wondering how they can get in touch with their loved ones while avoiding the health risks associated with the continued spread of COVID-19. Is it possible to visit the grandparents this year, or do you have to make holiday memories via a laptop or phone screen? Is it safe to attend a holiday dinner, or is it too risky to share a meal?
"The best way to completely minimize the risk right now is to stay at home," said Andrew Roszak, executive director of the Institute for Child Welfare. and former Health Policy Fellow of the U.S. Senate Committees on Budget and Health, Education, Work, and Pensions. "But given that we have all been home orders for several months, it is understandable that many will have a desire to spend some time with families and return to a certain sense of normalcy."
What does that mean for your 2020 vacations? Are you going to travel to see your loved ones, or stay at home and connect over Zoom for your holiday party? We know that the best way to be safe during the holidays is to just celebrate with the members of your nearest household, but are there ways to reduce the risks of holiday travel? What are the best vacation safety tips to host a small gathering of family and friends in your home?
Let's take a look at some of the questions that families can ask themselves during the holidays ̵
In this article:
Are you going to travel?
"This year, I recommend that I only travel if absolutely necessary," says Dr. Nikhil Agarwal, Chief Physician at WellMed. The CDC offers similar advice: "Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year." (This advice was for Thanksgiving, but applies regardless of the holiday.)
Many people have already canceled their holiday travel plans – but some are still wondering if it is possible to reduce some of the risks of a holiday trip. . If you are currently weighing the potential risks and benefits of packing everyone in the car or booking a holiday flight, you may want to start by looking up information about the area you may be traveling to.
"If you are planning a trip, it is a good idea to do some research before you leave the house," says Roszak. "Several areas still have restrictions on which companies can be open or requirements for people arriving outside the city." Chicago, for example, has strict rules that require travelers to either quarantine for 14 days or give negative COVID test results.
Roszak also suggests looking at the fall levels in the area you plan to visit. "If an area has experienced a new upswing in cases, you can rethink your journey."
For cases not counted: Do not be the person bringing new COVID-19 cases with you. "Absolutely avoid traveling if you have any symptoms that indicate COVID or the flu," says Agerwal – even if you have already planned the trip, booked a flight and tagged your luggage. This is a year where it is much better to be safe than sad.
"The best way to completely minimize the risk right now is to stay at home."
—Andrew Roszak, Executive Director of the Institute for Child Preparedness
] What can you do to reduce the risk when traveling?
If you have decided to travel this year and want to keep your COVID-19 transmission risk as low as possible, ask yourself if it is possible to get where you are going by car. "Use private transportation as much as possible, especially if you are traveling with younger children," says Agarwal.
If you can complete your journey in a single day while minimizing the time you spend at gas stations, restaurants and so on, you will be reducing some of the risk of interacting with people outside your nearest household. "Plan routes to minimize the number of times you need to stop for food and gas," advises Roszak. "It's much safer to pack food from home and eat in the car, as opposed to stopping at restaurants or trying to find food along your way."
Roszak also suggests avoiding public restrooms – which can be easier said than done, especially if you are traveling with young children. "Public bathrooms contain many surfaces with high contact," says Roszak. “If you think you need to use a public toilet, be careful about the number of surfaces you touch. Be sure to wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer.
If you can only get where you are going by plane, Agarwal wants you to take a direct flight. Every stopover and airport transfer puts you in touch with more and more people, so choose a flight that minimizes these types of interactions (even if it means paying more for your tickets). "Follow strict safety precautions with masks, social distancing and hand cleaning," recommends Agarwal.
Keep in mind that even strict safety measures do not completely prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Tom Kenyon, who served in the CDC for 21 years before becoming Chief Health Officer at Project Hope, gives the following advice: “When it comes to flying, travelers should be aware of the risks. While frequent cleaning, air filtration, face coatings and contactless services help, the fact is: Being indoors among a crowd is inevitable on a commercial level, as is the potential for long exposure periods.
If you were to host people in your home?
Families who do not plan to travel over the holidays may be wondering if it is safe to hold a small holiday gathering in their home. If grandparents, close friends or quarantine members live nearby, is it possible to meet for a joint holiday meal or other type of party?
Public health experts urge caution. "Small household gatherings are causing more and more coronavirus to spread, especially in the United States," Kenyon said. Roszak agrees: "The absolute safest thing you can do right now is to stay home and stay away from individuals outside your immediate household."
As I said, many families have spent the fall navigating the dangers of other types of personal activities, from letting children go to school a few days a week to celebrating Halloween with a trusted circle of friends. If you are considering taking the risk of having some of these trusted friends or family members on holiday – and again the experts urge you not to do so – this is how you can reduce your health risks.
What are some ways to keep a safer holiday collection?
If you want to host a safer holiday collection in your home, start by taking the entire celebration outside. The CDC recommends that you arrange a small outdoor meal with friends or family living in your immediate area or community. The number of guests should be limited and the host should communicate the expectations of the guests in advance – wear masks, keep at least six meters apart and bring your own food and drink.
"Outdoor activity is undoubtedly safer than indoor activity," says Roszak. "A recent study suggested that 8 out of 10 [coronavirus] infections were caused by exposure to indoor spaces – such as churches, restaurants, gyms, cafes, supermarkets and other cramped indoor spaces."
If an outdoor meal is not & # 39; as an alternative, the CDC notes that an indoor meal can be made safer by opening windows to enable increased ventilation. Roszak agrees: "Air circulation has a major impact on the coronavirus – the fresher the air, the better."
Similarly, if your guests want to bring food to share instead of just bringing food for themselves, the CDC recommends having a person serve the food and let guests eat the meal with disposable utensils – but the CDC also notes that Hosting a contactless potluck, where each guest deposits a small serving of a beloved holiday dish on the doorstep of everyone in the potluck group before eating together over Skype or Zoom, is even safer than sharing food in person.
How can you create the safest possible holiday celebration?
What is the best way to keep your vacation safe 2020? Here is the official advice from the CDC: "Celebrate at home with the people you live with." This means avoiding holiday interactions with someone outside your nearest household, even if friends and relatives live in the same city – or even the same neighborhood.
For some families, this type of party can be easy – and it can even be a way to reduce holiday stress and create new holiday traditions. For other families, the thought of staying home on vacation and just connecting with grandparents and loved ones over Zoom can be harder to accept.
Which means we must be realistic, pragmatic and honest with ourselves. Most of us want to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and very few of us want to attend a party or celebration that could endanger someone else's life. That said, many of us have spent the past year carefully evaluating the risks and benefits of our daily activities – taking the subway, visiting a restaurant that offers outdoor seating, setting up a quarantine pod so children can socialize and learn  Now that the holidays are on the horizon, you may make similar risk / benefit evaluations – but this time you may feel a little more concerned about your decision making. Do not let the press during the holidays urge you to take risks that you are not comfortable with. Because some of these risks may depend on where you live (and where you might be considering visiting), talk to a local healthcare professional if you have questions about vacation travel, home meetings, or any other aspect of the vacation.  If you want to be as safe as possible, follow the CDC's advice and vacation safety tips: Stay at home, limit your personal interactions to the people in your household, and work with the people you love – in your nearest household or online – for to create a memorable holiday experience for everyone you wish you could celebrate with. If this means skipping this year's festivities to ensure you can celebrate together next year and for many years to come, then so be it.
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Our Editorial Policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that is supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and general well-being can be refreshingly easy.
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