Is this week’s COVID-19 news giving you flashbacks to early pandemic stress and anxiety? You are not alone. With the holidays approaching – and being the one thing we had to look forward to – many are questioning how to celebrate safely. In fact, many are scrapping the usual family gathering altogether.
While wondering what your own Thanksgiving table should look like, you might also be fielding questions from employees about large gatherings over the holidays. The CDC recently issued “Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings” Guidance, setting forth ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at holiday celebrations. In summary:
- The best option is to celebrate virtually or with members of your own household.
- In areas where feasible, hold the gathering outside. If that is not an option and weather permits, keep windows open.
- Check and comply with local rules limiting the size of gatherings – many areas are implementing changes to reduce the size of certain small events.
- Do not attend gatherings with anyone who had COVID-19 or has been exposed in the last 14 days. Family members who are going to get together should consider self-quarantining for the two-week period prior to the holiday if feasible.
- Ensure that everyone self-monitors for signs of illness prior to attending.
- Limit the number of guests and sit guests with members of their own household.
- Limit the duration of the event and try to avoid overnight guests when possible.
- Avoid direct contact (hugs and handshakes) with those of a different household.
- Wear masks when not eating or drinking.
- Encourage guests to wash hands often or use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid gathering in the kitchen where food is being prepared.
- Limit contact with shared items, such as utensils. Have one person serve food while wearing a mask and gloves or provide individual serving utensils.
- Clean and disinfect common surfaces after eating and wash linens after use.
We recognize that the holidays will look very different this year. Employers may consider sharing this guidance with employees to help reduce the spread as employees break for the holidays.