Preparing for the Winter Holiday Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The holiday season is upon us again, though there are extra considerations to keep in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Winter holidays are often filled with travelling and large indoor gatherings of multi-generational families. With prolonged social isolation over the course of the pandemic, many of us have been waiting for such get-togethers more than ever as a way to reconnect with our loved ones.  

Unfortunately, small household gatherings like dinner parties have been a significant contributor to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. 

As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season, we should be mindful that we all have a responsibility to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to help make this year's celebrations safer for everyone.

Before Celebrating

  • If you are not feeling well or have any COVID-19 symptoms, you should stay home. You could instead do your shopping online with contactless delivery, or ask someone to shop for you. 
  • When shopping for family gatherings, and when in any indoor public place, don't forget to wear a mask or face covering.
  • Keep a physical distance of 2 metres from others while shopping.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after shopping, as well as before and after handling food or food packaging. If you do not have access to running water, use hand sanitizer.
  • If you're the one preparing food for a small gathering, try to come up with COVID-friendly options, like snacks convenient for individual servings.
  • Get excited and stay positive about all the things you can still do.
  • Check frequently with your local public health authority on the number of people allowed for private gatherings. Rules and regulations regarding private gatherings can vary depending on your location, as well as whether your guests have been fully vaccinated.

While Celebrating 

  • Keep your celebrations small. Consider celebrating virtually through a video call or by phone with extended family, friends and loved ones.
  • Check in with guests before they arrive to make sure that they’re feeling well, aren’t experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and haven’t had recent contact with a confirmed case.
  • Share food safely. Instead of having a large shared bowl for serving, place food on separate plates for each person.
  • Do not share utensils, plates, or napkins
  • Keep hand sanitizer in your pocket or wash your hands often with soap and water. 
  • Celebrate outside if you can. If you are celebrating indoors, choose a larger room so people can sit or stand further apart, and open windows for better ventilation when possible. 

After Celebrating

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces with alcohol-based wipes or sprays. 
  • When cleaning surfaces, start with objects that are cleaner and finish with dirtier items. 
  • Don't forget to remove all table-top appliances and housewares, including cutlery and plates, for washing.
  • Vacuum the carpet, if applicable.
  • If you're attending an event instead of hosting, share these tips with the hosts. 

Keep in mind that celebrating virtually poses the lowest risk for spread of the virus. You can be creative when hosting a virtual celebration – carolling with family, expressing gratitude to each other, and playing virtual games are some fun activities you and your loved ones can try. Whether you’re celebrating indoors or outdoors with others, follow the most up-to-date recommendations given by your public health unit.

However you celebrate this year, make sure you spread the holiday spirit, not COVID-19.

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