Celebrating in Safety

Lily Dokhanchi ’21

Social distancing guidelines and limits to large gatherings of crowds are still in place by the CDC in Illinois to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. As the holiday season is approaching, potential family gatherings begin to highlight issues that may surround upcoming celebrations and the ability to follow said guidelines. Outdoor, socially distant gatherings of 6 feet apart are considered the safest way to be around multiple people, but as the weather grows harsher, this may not be an option for much longer. Indoor celebrations between immediate family members of the same household pose no extended risk due to a shared living space, but when extended family members, especially the elderly such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., begin to gather indoors together, the risk for the transmitting of COVID-19 increases. The elderly are at the highest risk of falling ill due to COVID-19, and 85% of fatalities are of patients ages 60 and older (IDPH). Additionally, families that choose to celebrate a holiday in a restaurant are also facing risks of being exposed to COVID-19, especially if indoor dining is permitted during the holiday season. Being in close proximity to others not in your family or at your own table increases the risk of COVID-19 spreading. Factors such as bad ventilation and staff interaction without masks also increase this risk, but various guidelines have been put in place to ensure the safety of indoor dining (if available) that will be helpful to follow this holiday season. 

There are many ways to celebrate this holiday season without putting elderly family members and others at high risk of COVID-19. Virtual celebrations over Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, etc. for many events have recently become the norm. If choosing to gather in-person this holiday season, an outdoor celebration would be the ideal option, although this may not be possible for the entire celebration due to weather conditions and location. If gathering inside, masks should be worn and a 6-foot distance should be maintained to prevent long-term exposure to large groups of people. If celebrating in a restaurant, one should make sure to check mask policies, the distance between tables, and other safety measures put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. Masks should be worn around servers and any other people present in the restaurant that are not a part of the same party. 

Although the holiday season this year will not look the same as it has in previous years, it does not have to fully stop. Just as masks and hand sanitizer have become a routine now, the safety measures that should be practiced this holiday season should be as well. It is very important to spend time with loved ones during this holiday season, but safety must come first. The health of those at risk must be protected when gathering to ensure a happy and healthy holiday season.

 

Works Cited

Livingston, Mercey. “Despite Restaurant Reopenings, Indoor Dining Is Still a 

Big COVID Risk.” CNET, 28 Oct. 2020.

 

Weisenstein, Brad. Szalinski, Ben. “Everything You Need to Know about COVID-19 

in Illinois.” Illinois Policy, 26 Oct. 2020,