This will be a unique holiday season as we all try to navigate how and whether we can safely visit our friends and family over the holidays. Is it smart to be gathering around the table with friends and family during a pandemic or should we be carrying out holiday traditions via Zoom? It's a personal decision for everyone.
For many people, this holiday season will mark the first time they plan to take a trip away from home in months. Hopper, a travel booking site, recently polled 850 people about whether they’re planning to travel for the holidays this year. 55 percent said it will be their first time traveling since the start of the pandemic. Because remote work and school give people more flexible schedules than usual, travelers may consider longer stays over the holiday weeks and mixing work and play to take advantage of "work from anywhere" policies. More than 51 percent of the people who were surveyed said they are considering an extended stay during the holidays this year. For those who do plan to travel, the CDC would like to remind everyone of these standard safety tips:
1.Make sure you are up to date on the latest travel restrictions, whether you are traveling domestically and plan to cross state lines (numerous states have quarantine or COVID-19 testing orders in place) or are traveling abroad either to or from the United States (international travel is still highly restricted).
2.Stay at least six feet from other people who aren’t from your household-both indoors and outdoors.
3.Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you’re in public.
4.Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer (with at least 60 percent alcohol).
5.Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
6.Monitor your health and look for symptoms of COVID-19 and take your temperature if you feel sick.
7.Get a flu shot.
When it comes to holiday get-togethers, events, and celebrations, the CDC divides the options into lower-risk, moderate-risk, and higher-risk activities. Here is a breakdown of some of the agency’s recommendations:
A small dinner with members of your household
Preparing foods or treats for family members and neighbors and delivering them without contact
A virtual gathering with friends and family
A small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live nearby
Visiting pumpkin patches or farms where hand sanitizer and mask use are encouraged and enforced, and social distancing is maintained
Going shopping in crowded stores
Attending crowded events
Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
The CDC also offers some post-travel advice. Travelers may be exposed to COVID-19 during their trip and not realize it. You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can be contagious without symptoms and spread the virus to others. Remember that you may pose a risk to your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you were exposed to the virus. If you traveled to an area that was experiencing high levels of COVID-19 spread, or if you were in crowds (airports, train stations, etc.), the agency recommends these additional precautions:
Stay home as much as possible.
Avoid contact with those at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Consider getting tested for COVID-19.
It's safe to say that the holidays will definitely look different this year. Whatever your travel plans may be, prepare well in advance by researching the destination and keeping an eye on coronavirus transmission rates. Communicate early and frequently with those you plan to visit and have some backup plans in case the situation changes. The good news is that there have never been more flexible airline and hotel cancellation and change policies, so you can cancel your trip easily if that becomes necessary.