With Thanksgiving around the corner and the holidays quickly approaching, many are thinking about how to celebrate safely with COVID-19 still looming large. Keeping your employees safe during the holidays is as important as ever. Celebrating may look a bit different this year. The good news is that there are ways to stay safe. To help you out, we’ve put together 10 safe holiday tips for you to provide to your employees this season:

  1. Keep gatherings small. And stick to the people in your household or “social cohort.” This year, smaller is really better.
  2. Mask up! There’s no doubt that masks help curb the spread of COVID-19. Your mask works both to keep you and everyone else safer, especially when indoors.
  3. Practice distancing. The closer people are and the longer they are in close contact, the more likely spread will occur. Being within 6 feet of someone for more than 15 minutes in any given 24-hour period, you are now a close contact. If there is room, be sure to spread out – several small tables spaced out are better than one.
  4. Ventilation is key. Stagnant airflow allows the virus to remain suspended in exhaled breath for several minutes. This can be minimized by increasing the ventilation, preferably with fresh air. So, open windows, turn on ceiling fans and HVAC fans and gather outside as much as possible.
  5. Consider testing. Get tested before you travel or ask your guests to get tested before they arrive, especially if they are staying for a prolonged period of time. While tests are not foolproof (i.e., if your test comes back negative you could still be carrying the virus or you could get it after testing), if it comes back positive, you or your guests will know to stay home.
  6. Consider quarantining. Ask everyone coming to your holiday dinner to quarantine for 14 days prior to the gathering. This is pretty strict but if everyone does it (i.e., goes nowhere, sees no one outside their household) you can be sure everyone at the table is safe.
  7. Wash, wash, wash. Using good hygiene with lots of hand sanitizer is still one of the best defenses. And no double-dipping!
  8. Get the flu shot. Battling COVID and the flu creates many challenges, so if you can take the flu off the table, all the better. Most people get a fever with the flu and can mistake it for COVID, causing everyone at your dinner to have to quarantine, which can also result in missed work, unnecessary trips to the hospital, etc.
  9. Location matters. Pay attention to COVID infection rates in the cities, towns, or states you plan to travel to. If the rates go up – or are already high – you may want to change course and skip the in-person visit.
  10. Go virtual. Consider alternatives to physical gatherings. You can have your immediate household family together and then use Zoom or FaceTime to connect with relatives around the country – maybe share dessert together or play a game virtually. You can still make it fun!

The pandemic has forced us to change, innovate, and adapt like never before and the holidays will be no exception. But they don’t have to be a wash. With some creativity, it is possible to be safe and responsible and still ‘gather’ this year.

About the Author: Terry Layman, MD

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Corporate Medical Director, Marathon Health

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