Photo Credit: Mika Baumeister

 

With the holidays fast approaching, many people are wondering how it will be possible to safely celebrate during the pandemic. While there is no way to tell exactly how this season will go, holiday gathering will certainly look different this year.

 

After months of isolation, it’s completely understandable that people are longing for close interaction from friends and family members. However, the reality is that going to see a lot of friends and family has the potential to have serious consequences that extend far outside of your own circle. So, what can you do to safely navigate the holidays amidst the pandemic?

 

Skip large parties this year

Masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene are all crucial in combination to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. It gets risky at parties and gatherings where friends and family are together in one room, as this makes practicing these precautions difficult. This gets riskier when you consider everyone will have their masks off to eat food.

 

While a friend certainly has no intention of getting you sick, they may not be isolating as often as you are because they’re following laxer guidelines or household standards.

 

Because of this, you should limit your gatherings to those in your immediate household, if possible. In the absence of gathering physically, virtual platforms can be used to share moments and meals that you can premake and exchange safely. If you do choose to get together, limit the size of your group and ensure people wear masks and maintain a distance of at least six feet.

 

Avoid unnecessary travel

COVID-19 is surging across the country, so even if your community has low case counts, that may not be the case for the individuals you’re sharing a flight with — or a dinner table. I know that there may be absolutely critical reasons to travel, but a celebration should not be a good enough reason to do that right now.

 

Maintain public health and safety protocols

Physical distancing and mask-wearing are two of the best things people can do to lower their risk of contracting COVID-19. As the virus is spread through respiratory droplets, masks add another layer between you and another person. Additionally, maintaining good hand hygiene and routinely sanitizing high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, television remotes, refrigerator doors and phones further lowers the risk of the virus spreading.

 

It is also important for everyone to adhere to public health measures in their communities, especially when connecting with others. While these measures may differ slightly from region to region, an expansive list of province-wide and more specific regional measures is available on the Ontario government website.

 

Find ways to stay connected at a distance

Maintaining a connection with others is important for mental health. Some ways that you can create a sense of connection may include: streaming the same movies and music at the same time as loved ones, having similar festive menus, having group calls before or after meals, or even by having outdoor, physically distanced visits (weather permitting).

 

One of the benefits of having such expansive methods of virtual communication is that you have the ability to connect with friends and family from long distances that you might otherwise have not been able to see.

 

While things are a lot different this year, there are still ways to experience some level of festivity while staying safe. Whether you move your traditions over to a virtual format or you choose to engage in distanced festivities, adjusting your plans to limit the spread of COVID-19 will help ensure you, your loved ones and your community remain safe this year.