Fall and winter holiday guidance; COVID-19 safety recommendations


Fall and winter holiday guidance; COVID-19 safety recommendations

 CALDWELL, IDAHO  – Traditional fall and winter holiday gatherings with family and friends are fun but increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 (Coronavirus 2019) or the flu. Southwest District Health recommends following these everyday tips to make your holiday season safer:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live in your household.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Keep your immune system strong: eat healthy foods, exercise daily, and get your flu shot.

Any in-person gatherings with persons outside of your household are considered high-risk, given the rapidly increasing rates of infection across the country and Idaho. Southwest District Health recommends that you find alternative activities this year to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you do plan on attending in-person gatherings with people outside of your household, take these additional steps:

  • Limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people (learn more at Stage 2 Stay Healthy Order).
  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.

If having guests to your home, be sure your guests follow the steps for those attending gatherings so that everyone can make Thanksgiving safer. Other steps you as a host can take include:

  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Limit the number of guests.
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • If celebrating indoors, open windows.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you do choose to travel:

  • Check travel restrictions before you go.
  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who does not live in your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.

While we may not be able to participate in traditional fall and winter holiday celebrations, consider these other holiday activities:

  • Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who don’t live in your household. Schedule a time to share a meal virtually.
  • Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared.
  • Watch Thanksgiving Day parades, sports, and movies at home.
  • Find a fun game to play.
  • Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and the days leading up to the winter holidays.
  • Use contactless services, like a curbside pick-up, for purchased items.
  • Shop in open-air markets, staying 6 feet away from others.
  • Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others (for example, leave them on the porch).
  • Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.

Remember, everyone can make Thanksgiving safer. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people who live in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer. Southwest District Health has published a helpful Fall and Winter Holiday Guidance document that may be found at https://swdh.id.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Fall-Winter-Guidance-Final-11.16.2020.pdf.

If you do not feel well, have a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Thanksgiving festivities or Black Friday shopping. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu.

If you think you have COVID-19 and need a test, contact your health care provider for an evaluation immediately. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call 211 for assistance. Visit https://get-tested-covid19.org/ to find a COVID-19 testing site.

Region 3 COVID-19 data are available on the Southwest District Health website at https://swdh.id.gov/covid19/. Please visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ for statewide information. Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411, excluding holidays.

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Media Contacts: 

Ashley Anderson          Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov