COVID-19 and the Holidays: Should You Cancel Your Travel Plans This Year?  

African-American family celebrating the holidays over Zoom

We’ve never had a holiday season like this before. 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed how we live – and it will change how we celebrate the holidays.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended staying home and spending the holidays with your immediate family to help slow the spread of COVID-19. For your safety, and the safety of your friends and family, it’s best to avoid traveling this year. Remember, you can still pass the virus onto others, even if you don’t feel sick.  

It is also getting colder outside in many parts of the country, forcing people indoors – where COVID-19 spreads more easily.    

But there are still things you can do to spark some joy this holiday season. Here are some ideas to get you started:  

  • Gather your household members together and have fun decorating, whether you’re putting ornaments on the tree or stringing up lights outside. Then, take a ride around your community and admire your neighbors’ holiday cheer 
  • Get crafty. Staying home is the perfect opportunity to tap into your creative side. One easy project we love – making a gratitude jar2020 hasn’t been the easiest year for anyone – which is why it’s more important than ever to count our blessings.  
  • Bake holiday cookies. You could even participate in a socially distanced cookie exchange with your friends and family. Have everyone make a different kind of treat and arrange times to drop them off on each other’s porches. For some inspiration on how to make healthier desserts this season, check out the American Diabetes Association’s Food Hub 
  • Reach out to family members who are far away. Even if we aren’t physically together, we can still keep in contact thanks to technology. Organize an online meeting Make time to get on Zoom or call your relatives to wish them a happy holiday – particularly if they are alone this year 

If you must travel for Christmas, these are the important things to keep in mind:  

  • Practice the 3Ws. Wash your hands, wear a mask and watch your distance.  
  • Consider whether you, or any of your family members, is at risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. If so, stay home.  
  • Look at the number of COVID-19 cases in your community as well as in the community that you plan to travel to. Different states and counties have different travel restrictions. Some may require you to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, or self-isolate for a period of time after arrivalBut a negative COVID-19 test simply means you don’t have the virus when you took the test. You should still plan on self-isolating before meeting with family members outside your household. You also need to consider any restrictions you’ll have to follow when you return home.  
  • Limit the number of guests. Set expectations with your family ahead of time – and stick to them.   
  • Ask family members to bring their own food and drink. But if you are sharing a meal, have one person serve and eat with single-use plastic utensils.  
  • If you’re inside, open the windows to increase air flow 
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly 

We all have to work together to flatten the curve of COVID-19. From all of us at Luminis Health, we wish you a happy, safe holiday.  

Jean MurrayJean Murray is the director of Infection Control at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center.