As the 2021 holiday season approaches and the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, families and friends will once again determine whether – and how – to safely congregate.
In updated guidance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended several ways to celebrate the holidays and protect the health of Americans and their loved ones.
“Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” the agency wrote last week.
The CDC provided some additional methods to safely enjoy the festivities.
While the agency recommends mask-wearing over both the nose and mouth in public indoor settings for the unvaccinated, those who are fully vaccinated are advised to still wear a well-fitted mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.
Americans are instructed to avoid crowded or poorly ventilated spaces and not to host or attend a gathering if they feel ill or have symptoms of COVID-19.
Additionally, those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or who have had close contact with someone who is infected, should get tested, the CDC says.
Thousands of people travel home for the holidays every year – though numbers have been down since the beginning of the pandemic.
The CDC recommends that people who are not yet fully vaccinated do not travel.
If people who are not fully vaccinated must travel, the CDC guidelines say to get tested with a viral test one to three days before the trip, avoid crowds and social distance, use hand sanitizer or wash hands frequently, wear a mask, get tested with a viral test three to five days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a full week after travel or 10 days after travel, without a test.
Everyone, including people who are fully vaccinated, is required to wear a mask while on public transportation. Children younger than 2 years old are not required to wear a mask.
Lastly, if gathering with a group of people from different households or different parts of the country, the agency says that additional precautions should be considered in advance of gathering.
“By working together, we can enjoy safer holidays, travel, and protect our own health as well as the health of our family and friends,” the agency said.