The holidays will likely look a bit different this year in Florida and across the country given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Holiday traditions involving big gatherings of family and friends will be more complicated and in some places, prohibited. The goal of federal, state, and local guidelines, many recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible while still enjoying the holidays. It all begins with considering the risk for your family members and taking care to protect any high-risk individuals in your household. Here are some ways you can celebrate the holidays safely in Florida.
Be Aware of Ongoing Concerns in Your Community
While some communities are seeing an increase in transmission and active infections, others are not. Every locality is unique, making it important to seek out information and guidelines for your area. If transmission rates and active infections are low, it is likely safer to host gatherings with those you see regularly. If surges are occurring where you live, consider hosting a smaller gathering rather than a large party where you might not know everyone in attendance.
Food and Drink
The traditional buffet lines and potluck celebrations could encourage the spread of infection, so if you are hosting a holiday gathering, make sure you practice safety protocols to keep your guests safe. Having a single person serve on everyone is the better option avoiding everyone touching serving pieces. Add individually wrapped packets of condiments and salad dressing and use disposable plates and utensils to limit transmission. Consider moving your gathering outside to the lanai or patio, something which is easily done in most parts of Florida. If the weather requires you to be inside, open windows to increase air flow and ventilation. Remind guests to wash hands frequently and if you are hosting a larger gathering, consider having your guests wear masks.
The Question of Out of Town Guests
Many families are looking forward to holiday reunions with out of town family and friends, including their away from home college students. For many families and friends who plan to gather for the holidays, coronavirus tests before traveling are a great way to ensure those with active infections are not exposing others to the virus. Tests are more readily available than ever before at pharmacies, urgent care centers, and pop-up sites and can help in keeping everyone safe while preventing the spread of COVID-19. For many families, the decision on who to invite this year is made based on the precautions needed to keep senior adults, immunocompromised family members, and high-risk individuals safe.
If You are Traveling
If you are traveling to visit family and friends for the holidays, there are a number of steps you can take to keep you and your family safe. First know the guidelines for the mode of transportation you are using – plane, train, bus – and take the precautions needed. Always wear your mask while traveling and have your own hand sanitizer available as well as sanitizing wipes with at least 60 percent alcohol with you at all times. If you are traveling by car, make sure you know any special guidelines in the areas you will be traveling through and to, and carry along your own drinks and snacks to avoid unnecessary interactions with strangers who might not be taking the same precautions as you and your family.
Attending Holiday Activities
Many families enjoy traditions which include attending local holiday activities. While some events have been cancelled this year, others will go on, though often with new guidelines to keep guests safe. Check your favorite events for schedules and safety guidelines as you make your holiday plans this year.