How To Plan For The Holidays In The Midst Of A Pandemic

Oct 16, 2020

Holiday Meal
Credit crd! / Flickr

Public health officials continue to push social distancing and avoiding large gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  So, how will the pandemic impact the holiday season, which is quickly approaching?

Dr. Nancy Yoon, chief medical officer for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said, if you decide to host events, have smaller gatherings.

"So, in the past if you were having, you know, like 50 people over to your house, you know, this might not be the year to do that same thing," she said.  "Maybe just try to limit it to really just a smaller group of people than you would normally have."

There’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of spreading COVID-19 when people come together, according to Yoon, but there are some things you can do to lower that risk.  She suggests having one person serving the food rather than having a buffet or family style meal.  Have hand sanitizer or a hand washing station nearby and make sure people use them.  Have paper towels available instead of shared cloth towels.  Ask guests to wear masks, and open doors and windows.

Yoon said, if the weather is nice, host your event outside where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower.  And seat family groups together, six feet away from other family groups if possible.

Be creative, she said, and try to stay positive.

"You know, this is not...the Thanksgiving that we were all looking forward to," she said, "but, you know, there's still ways to do it in a way that will be still a good experience for everybody." 

If you don’t feel comfortable attending a family gathering, think about visiting the hosts at another time during the day or set up an online gathering.

She said, while the pandemic will require those hosting gatherings to do some extra planning, they need to remember that there continues to be COVID-19 in our community and that the virus transmission is not slowing down.