Dallas County released its winter holiday guidance to help keep you and your family safe from the COVID-19 pandemic during the upcoming season. For more COVID-19 information and resources, click here.

Traveling

  • Reconsider travel during the holiday season and consider holding special remote gatherings or safe gatherings at home with only household members.
  • If you choose to travel, consider having celebrations on a different day, week, or month to allow for travel during less popular times.
  • Be aware of the risk level of your destination and any stops on your way to the destination.
  • Wear a mask, stay 6 feet or more from others when around individuals not in your household, and wash your hands frequently.
  • Carry a small personal sanitizing kit that contains hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and extra masks. 
  • It is safer to drive your own automobile than to take commercial or public transportation.
  • If you need to use commercial or public transportation, be aware of, and try to avoid, the busiest travel days and times.
  • Do not travel if you are sick with fever, cough, or other symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses such as flu.
  • Do not travel if you have recently tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test, or have had close contact in the past 14 days with a person who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you have been asked to quarantine, delay your travel until after the full 14 days of quarantine, even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 while at your destination, isolate yourself from others for a minimum of 10 days.

Celebrating

  • The safest approach is to defer Thanksgiving this year and other holiday gatherings with any individuals who do not live under your same roof.
  • Both the host and guests should try to limit their activities and exposure opportunities during the two weeks before the visit; the best option is for the host and guests to quarantine for 14 days before seeing each other to minimize the risk of exposure.
  • Clean your gathering spot and wipe down all high touch surfaces like faucets, countertops and bathrooms before your guests arrive.
  • If you consider gathering with people outside your immediate household, such as relatives or friends, and you cannot be sure they have not been exposed to COVID-19, don’t participate.
  • Suggest that handshakes and hugs be replaced with waves, verbal greetings, “air high-fives,” or “air hugs.”
  • If members of your household go out in public to work or socialize, protect yourself by keeping more than 6 feet away from them and wearing a masking when they are around.
  • If you want to socialize with friends or family members who do not live with you, have a family member who knows computers set up a computer gathering by Zoom or Teams computer hookup so you don’t have to gather in person.
  • We realize some members of the family, particularly seniors living alone may be joining a household for the celebration. However, other than accommodation for those living alone (which is still not recommended, but may occur) combining households should be avoided.
  • If there are gatherings of individuals who don’t live together, strongly consider:
    • Have plenty of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and place in areas where it can be used frequently.
    • Keep the festivities limited in time, for example, no more than 2 hours.
    • Have the festivities outside, weather permitting.
    • Ensure that your home is well ventilated. This can be accomplished by turning your central heating / air conditioner unit fan on high, and weather permitting, open your windows.
    • When individuals are gathered together (inside or outside), all individuals should wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
    • Eat outside and spread far apart from each other. If not possible to eat outside, then spread out around the house more than 6 feet apart during mealtime.
    • If eating inside, eat in silence (maybe even have a silent game competition).
    • Outside of mealtime, if individuals are enjoying beverages, use straws inserted under the face mask.

Meals

  • Before and after preparing, serving, and eating food, use alcohol hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • Limit the number of people who go in and out of areas where food is prepared or handled.
  • Consider having only one individual serve the meal to avoid shared serving utensils and other contact.
  • Limit gathering in the kitchen and in clean-up areas to only a few household members.
  • Use single-serve condiments, utensils, plates and other items if at all possible. If not, have one person pour items like salad dressing or sanitize containers between use.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations.
  • Consider single-use disposable utensils and dishware, such as paper plates, for serving and eating meals.
  • Avoid food such as cheese platters, bowls with nuts or chips, and consider having individual appetizers or plates with a selection of appetizers for each person.

Visitor/Guest Accommodations

  • Consider hotels, rentals or other types of off-site accommodations away from your home.
  • If guests must stay in your home, prepare sleeping areas and bathing accommodations separate from your family, and work out schedules for separate use of shared facilities.
  • Ideally, bathrooms should not be shared. If they must be shared, leave cleaning wipes or sprays for cleaning the facilities between individuals, especially on high touch surfaces such as sink handles.
  • Offer additional masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies, paper towels, and single-use items (e.g., individual soaps, toiletries, wipes, etc.).
  • Encourage your guests to help maintain and disinfect high-use surfaces. Individual bathing towels, hand towels, or paper hand towels should be made available.
  • Open windows in the house to allow fresh air which can help with the quality of indoor ventilation.

Other Considerations

  • Avoid crowded grocery stores by shopping early, off-peak times, or ideally by using curbside or delivery options.
  • When greeting friends and family, remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and minimize gestures, such as hugs or kisses that promote close contact.
  • Blow out decorative candles after everyone has left the room to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 germs with your breath. Do not blow out candles on birthday cake or similar candles on shared food items.
  • Discourage in person caroling this year due to the increase in droplets and aerosols produced by singing. Consider virtual caroling or reciting as an option. Host a Zoom caroling event or use other virtual options to spread holiday joy, but not COVID-19 viruses with family and friends.

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