Can holidays be celebrated safely during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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Photo Credit: Photo via Kgun under the Creative Commons License

Staying safe during the holiday season is crucial to keep you and loved ones healthy

By: Emily Spillar, Editor In Chief

The holiday season is one where we are gathered with family and friends. However, this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing, will it be the same?

Changing Holiday Traditions

The holiday season contains a numerous amount of traditions for all. Most spend their holidays with family and friends. They’re many people who go to travel to see family and friends during the holidays. However, due to COVID-19, that is not in the best interest of others. Traveling has been a hot topic during COVID-19. Other than essential travel (such as employment), traveling has been strongly discouraged. Some choose to not follow these protocols, but are required to follow a quarantine period when they return from their trip.

Indoor gatherings are also a heavy tradition during the holidays. Many have more than ten people together, however, that is also discouraged during COVID-19. In the summer months, indoor gatherings in New Jersey had reached the limit of 25, which was the largest amount allowed since COVID-19 quarantine had started. However, Governor Phil Murphy changed this restriction back down to a limit of 10 people just a week before Thanksgiving. This came as a shock to many New Jerseyans, as it threw off their holiday plans.

Breaking Protocol

Many New Jerseyans do not agree with this new gathering limit, and are planning on breaking it this holiday season. People still planning on traveling during the pandemic. However, is this the best idea for these families? The United States is reaching the highest numbers in COVID-19 cases. Such an increase in cases in the country, and New Jersey alone, has required for these restrictions to be put back in place. New Jersey families have been speaking out and saying that they would like to spend the holidays with all of their family, being that they don’t know if this will be the last with them. The same thing applies to travel, those who disagree with protocols want to travel to see their families this holiday season.

This Thanksgiving airlines project that nearly a million people with travel via airplane. Although those numbers are normally much higher on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, that is still a lot of people choosing to disregard medical advice. In a New York Times survey, over a quarter of Americans are still planning to gather around the table with people outside their immediate family this Thanksgiving.

Celebrating the holidays safely

This holiday season is obviously not going to be the same as others. However, they’re still ways that you can celebrate. If you do plan on going to an indoor gathering, try to make sure it does not max ten people. However, if you are unable to do so, there are several protocols you can follow. Make sure to stay 6 feet apart, or leave a decent amount of space between you and someone you do not live with. Wearing a mask when you are not eating is also something that is smart for larger indoor gatherings.

If you are planning on traveling this holiday season, there are also ways that you can stay safe. Make sure you check the traveling restrictions before you go. If there is a quarantine period required to follow before and/or after traveling, be sure to follow it. Also, while traveling, be sure to wear a mask at all times and stay six feet apart from others.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers these guidelines for travel and  if you feel you might have been exposed to the virus during traveling. They recommend getting trip cancellation insurance so “you are able to make a last-minute cancellations or changes to your itinerary without losing money on flights, cruises, train tickets, or pre-paid lodgings.”

These guidelines may be tiring to follow by now, but they are in place to keep you and others safe. Even though it is not ideal, have a happy and healthy holiday season.

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