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DOH-Marion shares holiday gathering precautions

By Florida Department of Health in Marion County

October 27, 2020

 

OCALA, Fla.—Part of the fun of fall and winter is the increase in gatherings and events with families and friends. You should continue to look at COVID-19 precautions as you celebrate your favorite holidays in the days and months ahead, however.

The risk of any particular event is based on several factors that should be considered both individually and together, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include:

  • COVID-19 transmission rates: The rate of COVID-19 transmission in the communities where attendees will be coming from and in the location where the gathering will be held.
  • Location of the event: Events held indoors or with poor ventilation will be riskier than events held outdoors.
  • Length of gathering: Longer events are riskier than shorter events.
  • Number of people at event: While there are no formal limitations on event size currently, the higher the number of people there are at an event, the riskier the event is. The CDC recommends that the size of gatherings be set based on the ability to reduce/limit contact among attendees and any other guidelines by regulatory authorities.
  • Behavior of attendees before gathering: Attendees who have not been following social distancing, mask wearing, and handwashing guidelines are riskier than attendees who have been following preventative behaviors.
  • Behavior during event: The more preventive measures in place during an event, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing, the lower the risk is for attending.

There are several groups that should not attend in-person holidays or events per the CDC. If you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus, neither you (nor someone in your household) should take part in or host in-person festivities. These restrictions apply if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not yet met the guidelines for when it’s permissible to be around others.
  • Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
  • Are waiting for COVID-19 test results
  • Were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 within the last 14 days.

The CDC also recommends that if you are someone at risk for severe illness or if you live or work with someone who faces an increased risk, to:

  • Avoid attending in-person gatherings with others who you don’t live with.
  • Avoid larger events and consider going to events that are less risky (if deciding to attend an in-person event with persons outside your household).

For more information on considerations for fall and winter holidays, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween.

Trick-or-treat safety tips

Some traditional Halloween activities are riskier than others due to COVID-19. However, if you will be trick-or-treating this weekend, there are several steps you can take to make it a safer experience for all, per the CDC.

  1. Reduce direct contact. The CDC recommends avoiding direct contact (if possible) with trick-or-treaters and giving treats outside. Setting a station up with individually prepared bags is preferred. All should wash hands before handling treats and wear a mask when handing out, preparing or receiving treats.
  2. Wear a cloth face mask, and make it part of your costume. Costume masks aren’t a substitute. Anyone who has difficulty breathing and children younger than 2 years old should not wear a mask.
  3. Stay away from people not from your household. Practice social distancing (six feet apart), whether indoors or outdoors.  
  4. Clean your hands. Use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces or other people. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before eating Halloween treats.

If trick-or-treating is off the holiday list due to health concerns, you can still enjoy Halloween by:

  • Decorating or carving pumpkins
  • Visiting a pumpkin patch or corn maze
  • Hold a Halloween movie night indoors with household members or outside with friends and neighbors.

For more information

Visit DOH-Marion online at Marion.FloridaHealth.gov and on Twitter (@FLHealthMarion) for more information on COVID-19 and living healthy in Marion County. For local questions about COVID-19, call the DOH-Marion COVID-19 hotline at 352-644-2590. 

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Florida, visit floridahealthcovid19.gov, call the state hotline (866-779-6121), or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov.