If you feel a disconnect from your family and friends due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, you are not alone.
Many people look forward to the holiday season to reconnect with their loved ones and party off the ills that the year has brought with it. While that is not out of place, you should know that we are not rid of the virus yet.
Family time is an important time, but it is only essential when everyone is fine, healthy, and alive to celebrate it.
If you must hold family gatherings, follow this CDC-inspired guide of what to do before, during, and after such meetings.
Before the Gatherings
There are several things you can ensure/ put in place before the gathering occurs at all.
We have outlined some of such below.
Keeping this close from a distance.
In the case family members and relatives will be traveling in, determine where they will be coming in from.
Some regions are more affected by the coronavirus than others. It is in your best interests to determine if anyone is coming from any of the COVID-19 hotspots.
That does not mean that they have the virus, but it allows you to plan for its event.
Great Minds Think Alike
At this stage, we want to believe that everyone knows they are responsible for keeping themselves and those around them safe.
Even at that, it doesn’t hurt to remind everyone that will be coming of that.
They should take the proper security and safety measures when traveling down to the gathering. For the duration of the gathering and after also, they should know what they should and should not do.
When everyone is informed of their place way before the D-day, there will be no excuse relating to ignorance anymore. Likewise, a “brother’s keeper” situation can be created when family and relatives can police and call one another out when anyone is derailing from the plans.
During the Gathering
Staying safe before the gathering is essential, but a lot more work needs to be done during the meeting. These pointers should be kept in mind at all times.
Excuse the Elderly
Everybody is at risk of fatality from the virus, but the risk increases with age and underlying medical conditions.
If possible, keep the elderly away from traveling down to join in family gatherings. The rest of the family can gather around and hold a virtual meet with their elderly instead. There will be enough time for everyone to connect again when this is all over.
In the same vein, special considerations should be made for those with underlying medical behaviors. They don’t have to be alienated, and everyone else should also observe the proper measures. That said, though, special care still needs to be given to those that need it.
It is much easier to ensure social distancing and other safety measures in an outdoor setting than inside. Whenever possible, move such family gatherings away from the insides of your home.
You don’t have to go somewhere fancy or take a picnic table to a park. Your backyard/ lawn could double as the spot for some family time.
Know that doing this does not eliminate the foot traffic in the home/ indoors. However, it does reduce such contact of people within the indoor space to the barest minimum. An outdoor setting also makes it possible to spread out better, reducing the virus’s risk.
This is one of the safety measures we have been talking about, but we need to give it a section.
Everyone in the gathering should be on their nose masks at all times. Not just any kind of mask, but medically-certified picks that will genuinely reduce the spread/ risk of contracting the virus.
When it’s time for merriment, proper mask handling procedures should be deployed.
Attendees should make sure that they never remove and drop their masks just anywhere. Everyone should have a small, breathable bag where they can put their masks for the time being. When they are done eating/ drinking, the masks should go back on.
A lot has been said about how long the virus can last on certain surfaces. The duration varies, but the risk of spread remains potent.
Commonly touched surfaces in the home should be wiped down and cleaned frequently too. Cleaning with soap and water, then disinfecting with approved products, should eliminate any dangers of contamination.
You can use contactless systems (for garbage cans, for example), which would make more sense.
#8 – Pet Management
Family members love to pick up pets and play with them.
Even if this social circle was not touching one another, touching the same pet could have the same effect. Thus, treat your pets like you would humans.
If possible, keep the pets out of the way of everyone not a part of your immediate household. Find them a safe space within the house to stay for the duration of the gathering. You don’t want your beloved pets to be the reason why a new case of COVID-19 was reported.
If guests are bringing food to the party, let them only prepare for themselves and members of their immediate households. The only time when it would be okay for everyone to eat from the same pot is either ordering from a local restaurant observing COVID-19 measures, or the host is preparing all the meals.
Speaking of, the person cooking the meals should have their masks on at all times. In addition to other established hygienic food preparation procedures, that is.
After the Gathering
It doesn’t just end with the gathering itself. You can continue to ensure proper COVID-19 measures even after the last guest has left.
Observe Self Isolation
You might have followed all the other guidelines to a T, but we can never be too sure.
Observe self-isolation for up to fourteen days after the gathering. Please encourage your guests to do the same when they get back to their homes also.
It is already common knowledge that carriers of the virus can go around spreading it to others while not showing symptoms themselves. On the off chance that something is wrong, you don’t want to be a carrier.
If you feel strange after a few days, it is a fair idea to get tested. Most times, it is just your mind playing tricks on you – but you can never be too sure anyway.
Even if you test negative, ensure you complete the self-isolation period of 14 days before making social contact with other people. Try not to travel within this period also lest you pose a danger to other unsuspecting individuals.