Planning a huge holiday celebration with your family and close relatives is a little different this year. You have to consider COVID-19 safety at the top of the priority list. According to professionals, your safety practises should begin with who receives invitations. Other significant concerns include how meals should be served and whether or not individuals should wear masks inside. When addressing safety precautions with visitors, experts advise concentrating on ensuring everybody feels secure.
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How To Safely Organise A Large Holiday Gathering During The COVID Pandemic
Yes, during the COVID-19 pandemic, organising a safe Christmas party is permissible.
With some thought given to who is invited, this year’s celebrations may seem more “regular" than the previous season.
According to experts, we can thank vaccines while we’re seated all around the dinner table with family and friends.
Who Should Come and Why
According to Dr Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, one of the most challenging decisions of the Christmas season is deciding who to include.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this question, as every situation will be unique,” Gonsenhauser told Healthline.
According to experts, COVID-19 currently predominantly affects unvaccinated individuals, who have 5 to 10 times greater infection rates than vaccinated ones. Unvaccinated persons account for more than 90% of COVID-19 hospitalisation and fatalities.
“This means that to all people, vaccinated or not, unvaccinated individuals pose the greatest risk of perpetuating the pandemic,” Gonsenhauser said. “Without suitable risk mitigations strategies like mask use and physical distancing, unvaccinated people should be included only if the host and other guests are making an informed decision about these risks.”
Your objective is to reduce the probability of getting infected. In that case, you may have to exclude those experiencing symptoms, friends who decided not to get vaccinated or refusing to wear a face mask to your party.
Discussing Vaccination Status
Keeping visitors safe involves discussing vaccination status.
“It is not a rude or inconsiderate question, and it is not breaking any HIPAA law, privacy law, or infringing on the doctor/patient relationship," said Gonsenhauser.
When vaccination is the subject of conversation in your family or with a group of friends, he recommends starting with your “why."
“Vaccination status has been appropriated as a political signal, but at the end of the day, it’s really about safety and risk. Lead with that," he said. “Ground the discussion as being about your priority to keep everyone at your celebration objectively safe but also simply feeling safe.“
If you’re speaking with someone who refuses to respond or who is arguing over the data, Gonsenhauser advises gently informing them that the statistics aren’t always necessary.
Tell them that how people feel counts and that you are devoted to making sure that everyone feels secure and safe during the party.
“It’s easy to explain why you are asking one person to volunteer this information… so that the majority of guests can feel safe in attendance," he said.
Children: Mask Or No Mask?
“It is a good idea for those children who have high risk factors or have not been vaccinated to wear masks,” said Gonsenhauser. “We are seeing an increase in the numbers of children severely impacted by COVID-19, and it’s important that we provide them as much protection as we can.”
He added that children who have had their first dose of vaccination at least two weeks before a gathering might be regarded as having considerable but not optimum immunity.
“For these partially vaccinated children, mask use is encouraged,” he said.
Proper Meal Service
Meal service and seating may continue as usual at festivities if all or virtually all participants have been vaccinated, according to Gonsenhauser.
“If your celebration is inclusive of unvaccinated individuals, they should be asked to wear masks and you should be sure not to seat them in close proximity to anyone with high risk factors or potentially seat them individually and at an appropriate physical distance,” he said.
“It’s important for all to understand that when one chooses to take actions that may impact the health of those around them, they should expect that those around them will choose to protect themselves,” said Gonsenhauser.
Feeling Helpless Or Anxious
There’s a potential that not everyone in your home or social circle will support your attempts to arrange a COVID-19 celebration.
It might be difficult to comprehend why you’re getting backlash or why other people’s pandemic fear differs from yours.
Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, the founder of The Inner Mammal Institute and professor emerita at California State University East Bay, and the author of “Status Games: Why We Play and How to Stop," argues that neural pathways formed by previous experiences trigger anxiety.
“Neurons connect when the stress hormone known as cortisol flows, and that wires you to release cortisol faster in the future," Dr Breuning told Healthline. “So, even when you think it’s today’s events that concern you, your brain is always filtering the world through the lens of old neural networks."
In other words, because each brain has its own set of experiences, it believes its reality that is not similar to others.
This is why, while planning for holiday parties, you may want to consider Gonsenhauser’s approach of adhering to your sentiments about protecting people rather than talking about evidence.
“You will have a better holiday if you accept that others have their concerns based on their anxiety circuits," said Breuning. “The holidays are a time to accept those people you’ve chosen to surround yourself with despite their inevitably different wiring.“