Holidays, Gatherings & Travel
As we enter the holiday season, we must remain cautious. It may mean that our holidays look different this year, but we can still find ways to celebrate safely with our loved ones.
Holidays and social gatherings are important. And we have many traditions – often ones that include holding festive celebrations, spending time together, and sharing meals.
But research shows that small private gatherings with family and friends can spread the virus just as quickly as big public events. There is a significant risk of sharing the virus any time we get together with others we don’t live with, even if we feel fine. And as winter weather comes to Pennsylvania, cold dry air is creating ideal conditions for respiratory viruses like the coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people from different households should avoid spending more than 15 minutes within six feet of each other in a 24-hour period. We should continue to follow all health and safety measures, like wearing masks and keeping six feet apart, and consider socializing virtually to protect your health and others.
Virtual Gatherings & Holiday Ideas
It may be different than our usual traditions, but there are many ways we can creatively celebrate the holidays, even when we aren’t in-person. A few ideas for how we can celebrate together safely include:
- Enjoying extra quality time with your immediate household (and take advantage of the time you usually spend on hosting or traveling to a big gathering)
- Hosting a virtual celebration and invite family and friends who might normally be too far away to participate in your usual in-person events
- Creating a feeling of togetherness by organizing a drive-by potluck with each meal participant dropping off a portion of their dish at others’ homes (allowing for safe food sharing and minimizing food waste)
- Taking a break from cooking and support your local restaurants by ordering takeout or delivery. You and your family and friends can order the same meal from the same place, or mix it up and order different dishes from different restaurants
As we get closer to the holidays, please take time to create a safe holiday plan for your celebrations to protect yourself and those you love.
Looking for more inspiration for a safe holiday at home? Check out the visitPA website.
Reducing Risk for In-person Gatherings
If you are hosting or attending an in-person gathering, please take precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Though we may feel comfortable with family and close friends, we should not let our guard down.
It may be tempting to take off your mask, hug each other, and be physically close when spending time with loved ones. But even if you or others appear to be healthy, you may still be carrying and sharing the virus.
Please follow the health and safety measures recommended by the CDC for hosting or attending a gathering. That includes (but isn’t limited to):
- Wearing a mask when not eating or drinking AND keeping six feet apart
- Washing your hands frequently
- Limiting shared contact with food and serving utensils
- Bringing your own plates, eating utensils, and drinks
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and shared items
- Downloading the COVID Alert PA app from the App Store or Google Play
If possible, try to organize the event outdoors in a well-ventilated space. Even outdoors, guests should wear masks when not eating or drinking. And most importantly, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are feeling unwell, please stay home.
Travelers Visiting Pennsylvania
If family or friends are traveling to visit you from out-of-state, they must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before they arrive or quarantine for 10 days once they get to Pennsylvania per the PA Department of Health’s Order of Mitigation Relating to Travel issued on Nov. 17, 2020.
Traveling Outside of Pennsylvania
If you travel to another state, you must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before returning to Pennsylvania or quarantine for 10 days after you get back from your trip. This does not apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or medical treatment.
If you have recently traveled or plan to travel soon, visit the PA Department of Health’s Travel Advisory webpage for the latest guidance.
COVID Alert PA
Add your phone to the fight against COVID-19 by downloading the COVID Alert PA app. After you have downloaded the app, you can opt-in to receive alerts if you have had a potential exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. If traveling to other locations in the United States, the app works in:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota