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December 17 2020

8 Safe Ways to Celebrate a Family Gathering Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Filipinos are known for celebrating the holiday season with family and friends. It is that time of the year when invitations to parties and get-togethers are pouring left and right, and one can feel the festivities in the air.

However, with the ongoing pandemic and the government’s mandate cautioning people about large Christmas gatherings, it is best to be mindful of health and safety protocols to uphold everyone's safety.

Factors to Consider

Below are some of the things to note for a safe Christmas celebration.
  • Infection level of the community – If there is a high number of active and recorded cases in the area to be visited, the risk of transmission may increase. Consider relocating the party venue to a safer place.
  • Risk of exposure during travel – How are people going to the gathering’s location? There is a risk of unknowingly picking up the virus in buses, taxis, and other modes of public transport.
  • The family gathering venue – It is better to be in a well-ventilated area versus staying in a small, enclosed space indoors.
  • The number of people attending – The more people present, the higher the risk of infecting one another, especially if the venue is a small space.
  • Risk level and health of attendees – Everyone should declare who are the high-risk, immunocompromised, or previously infected persons in the family for transparency.

8 Safe Ways to Celebrate a Family Gathering This Holiday Season

To make sure that everyone stays healthy while spending time with loved ones and still doing their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, here are tips in safely celebrating a holiday gathering.
  • Check the local regulations before attending the event

Always be mindful of the laws enforced before organizing or attending an event. This includes sanitation measures, travel permits, and health declaration, such as a negative result of a COVID-19 swab test. Besides not getting infected, make sure that no laws are broken.
  • Do not leave the house if feeling unwell

If any member of the family reports feeling sick or is coming down with symptoms of COVID-19, it may be best for everyone if this person stays at home. They may be coming down with the disease, or their current condition can make them immunocompromised and more susceptible to contracting infectious diseases.
  • Make sure that the number of attendees is limited, as stated in the government’s health guidelines

Presently, there is a rule that states no more than ten people can gather in one space at a time. This may be understandably difficult for larger families. One way to ensure that the festivities continue is to group a few attendees and have them gather in different locations, then have a video conference call with each household.
  • Hold events outdoors for that extra ventilation to reduce the risk of spreading the disease

The virus cannot survive long in a well-ventilated area. Enclosed spaces make it easier for the virus to spread, and the venue's air quality may not be good. If a family member has a spacious yard, this is always the better option.
  • Be mindful of necessary preventative measures

Always wear a mask, wash hands thoroughly, avoid touching the face and the mask with hands, and keep at least a meter’s distance away from others. Being a part of a small group does not remove the risk of contracting the virus, and symptoms do not always manifest during the early days of infection.
  • Manage family expectations and set ground rules

Before attending the gathering, ensure that everyone in the family has agreed to follow a set of safety protocols. Everyone must follow it to maintain the integrity of the measures put in place. Be prepared for various reactions to the rules, as others may have stricter practices put in place, which work best for all the attendees.
  • Keep an extra eye on children

Gatherings may easily excite children, making them and others more susceptible in forgetting the rules set in place. If attending with a child, make sure they are always monitored. Arrange for other activities that they can do that do not involve too much contact, such as video games with their relatives.
  • Have an emergency plan ready

In case a relative reports that they are feeling unwell after the gathering, all family members must have an isolation and monitoring protocol and be prepared to go to a testing facility nearby to ensure that they are in the clear. Keep a list of all the attendees for easier contact tracing efforts.

Staying Safe with Your Loved Ones Amid COVID-19

This is the first time many Filipinos will experience the holidays like this. And while it may dampen the spirits of some, it is best to remember that everyone is doing this for each other’s safety. Prevention is better than cure, and celebrating that all family members are healthy and well is reason enough to be merry this Christmas season. It can’t be stressed enough that staying home is the best and safest option.
In case of any COVID-19 related symptoms, do not hesitate to reach out to Makati Medical Center. Keep safe and healthy during the holidays!