SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Winter holiday celebrations are just days away and safety guidelines are being recommended by national, state, and local public health organizations to keep people safe this year.
In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has emphasized the safest thing to do this holiday is to stay home and celebrate with those who live in the same home or get together virtually.
For those who choose to travel or visit loved ones this holiday, the CDC recommends getting a flu shot; visitors should wash their clothes and masks, and keep luggage out of common areas; wear a mask while inside; social distance; and avoid singing or shouting.
Utah Department of Health
“I know it’s going to be a really different holiday season for a lot of us,” said Utah Department of Health spokesperson Charla Haley.
Utah’s holiday guidelines also fall in line with the CDCs, and it notes that people who choose to get together in-person, should limit time spent with others, wear a mask, social distance and practice good hygiene.
“People are used to getting together and celebrating and they’re used to gathering for Christmas and New Years’ and parties and all of those things,” Haley said. “And it just has to look different this year than in year’s past. It’s a sad reality.”
Haley said guidelines are a recommendation, but she hopes people will follow them.
“There’s nobody going to come into your home, and you’re not going to get in trouble,” Haley said, “but for the sake of everyone’s health, we would really appreciate it if people would pay attention to who they’re spending time around.”
And despite the CDCs holiday recommendations, a new AAA study suggests record-breaking travel numbers, with one in three Americans leaving home for the holiday.
As of Tuesday, there are no travel restrictions placed on the state. If you plan to travel during the pandemic, know about Utah’s travel guidelines.
Salt Lake County Health Department
The Salt Lake County Health Department also recommends the safest way to celebrate is at home this year.
However, if a person does hold a holiday get-together (which county officials said includes college students on break), they – along with guests – should take steps to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The county recommends any person who plans to attend a holiday event should minimize their exposure with others before and after the event; test for COVID-19 two-to-three days before; upon arrival, isolate and then practice social distancing and wear face coverings when in the same room; and once home, test three-to-five days after traveling.
“While celebrating and visiting virtually is the ideal scenario this year, we understand there are circumstances where people will still be hosting visitors or visiting friends and family for the holidays,” said Gary Edwards, executive director of Salt Lake County Health Department. “Taking these steps, along with continuing to wear face coverings and social distancing whenever outside your home, will help prevent COVID from affecting your holiday more than it already has.”