Holidays

(Photo - SJ on Unsplash)

Going into the holiday season, the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) offered direction for those wondering if it is safe to gather and celebrate with loved ones.

Here are guidelines for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19:

The safest gathering is one that is a small, stable group that meets outdoors for a short duration and uses face coverings, distance and other safety measures. Any activity outside of your household increases chances of exposure to the virus. Be selective and space out which public activities you choose.

If gathering with your small, stable group is most important, consider forgoing or delaying other activities, such as a haircut or indoor dining, to reduce your overall exposures and protect your group. If you gather in person, keep it safe, small, short, and stable.

Gather outside and follow safety guidelines:

The risk of COVID-19 transmission is highest in indoor spaces without enough ventilation. That’s why gathering inside is not allowed, except as permitted under the state’s health order. Outdoor spaces that are covered are okay, as long as 75% of the space is open to the outdoors. People may go inside to use restrooms, as long as restrooms are sanitized often and attendees only go one at a time.

Limit gatherings to no more than three households. When people from different households are together at the same time in the same space, the risk of spreading COVID-19 goes up. That’s why gatherings of more than three different households are not allowed.

Limit gatherings to no more than two hours. The longer people gather together, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading. That’s why gathering for longer than two hours is not allowed, under the state’s health order.

The more people come into contact with others outside their household, the higher the risk of spreading COVID-19. That’s why participating in multiple gatherings with different households is strongly discouraged. If you attend several gatherings over the holidays, keep it to the same group of people. Safety recommendations:

Maintain at least six feet of physical distance from people not in your household at all times, whether you’re sitting or standing. More distance is safer.

Wear face coverings at all times, including when talking to others. You can remove face covering briefly to eat, drink, or take medication, as long as you stay at least six feet away from everyone outside your own household. More distance is safer.

Remain outside as much as possible. If you go inside, open windows and doors to increase ventilation.

Wash hands with soap and water often. If not available, use hand sanitizer.

Serve shared food safely. If it is not possible to use single-serve, disposable containers, food and beverages must be served by a person who washes or sanitizes their hands frequently and wears a face covering. If you are dropping off home-prepared food or drink gifts, be sure to wear a mask and disinfect or wash your hands thoroughly.

Avoid singing, chanting, and shouting. If you cannot avoid these activities, keep your face covering on, your volume low, and at least a six-foot distance from others. More distance and being outdoors are safer.