The safest way to celebrate winter holidays is to do so with the people in your bubble. This was the advice public health officials gave for Thanksgiving and it is the advice being given for the numerous December holidays and celebrations.
With the coronavirus raging in Washington state and across the county and the vaccine not yet widely available, this month’s holiday celebrations should be celebrated virtually with friends and family.
In this week’s FAQ Friday, we answer questions about how to more safely do holidays and celebrations like Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s, and other holiday-specific COVID-19 questions.
How can the holidays in December be more safely celebrated?
The only way to truly safely gather for the holidays is to do so with your bubble-mates.
This week, Gov. Jay Inslee extended restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Those restrictions ban indoor social gatherings with people from outside your household unless they quarantine for 14 days before the gathering.
If it is possible to host a gathering outside, the restrictions, which are in place until Jan. 4, allow for five people from outside your home.
Can the coronavirus be contracted from food prepared during a holiday celebration?
The risk of catching the coronavirus from a meal is “very low,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be careful when cooking a Christmas roast. If you have COVID-19-like symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of the disease, you need to isolate from others and not cook the Christmas meal, according to guidance from Public Health – Seattle & King County.
“Food preparation and serving often involves being in close contact, and often indoors, so we are strongly encouraging people not to gather indoors with anyone who doesn’t live with them,” Gabriel Spitzer, a spokesperson for Public Health wrote in an email. “A safer alternative this holiday season could be cooking food on your own, packaging it, and dropping it off (without going indoors, and while wearing a mask and keeping 6-feet of distance) to your family and friends.”
Can a coronavirus infection come from a Christmas tree?
The CDC says the main way the virus is transmitted is from people being in close contact with one another. Transmission can happen from people touching surfaces where the virus is present but that “is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
The chances of contracting the virus from a Christmas tree brought into a house isn’t likely, Spitzer wrote.
“It’s theoretically possible to transmit the virus via a contaminated surface, though it’s hard to imagine this happening on the boughs of a Christmas tree — especially one that has lived its whole tree life outdoors,” he wrote.