Given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, you may be wondering whether to go ahead with your holiday gathering plans. Omicron is highly transmissible, and immunity from previous COVID-19 infections or two-dose vaccination appears less effective at preventing infection from this variant.
Your best protection against Delta, Omicron, and all other variants of COVID-19 is still vaccination. If you’re fully vaccinated and have gotten a booster dose, or if you’ve gotten vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19 infection, then you have the best protection against severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalization. But if you're 65 and older, have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, or aren't yet fully vaccinated, you are at risk for serious COVID-19 illness. If you or anyone you know meets these criteria, you should take extra precautions to protect them from COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Many of us are looking forward to spending time with friends and family during the upcoming winter holidays. But no in-person gathering is risk free - the safest gatherings are still virtual. If you plan to host or attend an in-person holiday gathering, here’s a checklist to help you gauge the level of risk.
Risk Reduction Checklist for Holiday Gatherings
The more of these precautions you can check off, the safer your gathering will be. If you can only check a few boxes, the gathering you’re attending or hosting is risky.
- The gathering is small - the fewer households in attendance, the safer.
- The gathering takes place mostly outside.
- Most (or all) guests are fully vaccinated.
- Most (or all) fully vaccinated guests have gotten a booster.
- No guests have had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past two weeks.
- Unvaccinated guests have fully recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive for the virus in the last three months.
- Unvaccinated guests are all from the same, single household.
- If there are unvaccinated guests from more than one household, everyone wears a mask indoors.
- If any guests are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, everyone wears a mask indoors.
- Masks are worn by everyone indoors, period.
- There’s enough space indoors for social distancing.
- Indoor spaces are well ventilated.
- Frequent hand washing is encouraged, enabled, and practiced.
This list is not exhaustive! For more holiday gathering safety tips in multiple languages, check out DOH’s Safer Gatherings page. Regardless how many boxes you’ve checked, make sure you monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after the event.