Don’t Give the Gift of COVID: The Dos and Don’ts of Coming Home For the Holidays to Your Suspicious Family
Thanks to coronavirus, it’s a whole, new, scary world out there. None of us thought we’d still be plagued by the pandemic come the holidays, yet here we are, with many states experiencing records levels of infection, hospitalizations, and death due to COVID-19.
If you can stay put where you are during the holidays and have a virtual gathering with your family instead, that’s the safest way to prevent the spread and keep your loved ones healthy. But we also acknowledge that it’s been a long, lonely year, much of it spent alone and in quarantine, and some of us are desperate for a little socialization and to reconnect with our families. (We never thought we’d say that, right?)
If you can’t stay away from home this holiday season, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. We’ve rounded up the best tips and trustworthy advice to keep you and your kin protected this season. (Because no one wants to give the gift of coronavirus.) These are the dos and don’ts of coming home to your family for the holidays.
Cover Photo: franckreporter (Getty Images)
Do: Get tested.
Before you get on a plane or hop in a car, make sure you get tested for coronavirus. If you test positive, that means you’re staying put. Test negative? Great! Make sure you test again before you leave your parents’ place and upon your return to your pad. Testing is available widely and for free in many areas of the U.S.
Don’t: Go to a party afterwards.
Your coronavirus test results only capture a moment in time. Just like testing for STIs, you’re only negative until the next time you’re exposed to the virus again. Unfortunately, unlike STIs, you don’t know when you’re being exposed. Assume you’re susceptible to coronavirus as soon as you come into contact with another person or go out in public. Once you have a negative test before going home to see the ‘rents, do a mini-quarantine and make sure you aren’t out and about in places where you could get infected.
Do: Wear a mask.
Sure, they’re your family members and everyone has everyone else’s best interests at heart (we hope). But coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, so the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to wear a mask when you’re together.
Don’t: Share food.
We know holidays are all about the delicious grub, but this year, keep your plate, utensils, and all your edible goodies to yourself. No sharing, no taste-testing. Your aunt’s pumpkin pie may be “to die for,” but is it really, literally?
Do: Practice exemplary hygiene.
Wash your hands often. Don’t touch your face. Disinfect surfaces. These things should be second nature by now. Whatever you do, don’t let your guard down when it comes to hygiene just because you’re visiting family for the holidays.
Don’t: Expect your mom to clean everything.
Take responsibility for your own space. Bring your own disinfecting wipes and wipe down door handles, light switches, your cell phone, the toilet, and anything else you touch on the regular. Don’t wait for your parents to do it for you. It’s time to put on your big boy, coronavirus-fighting pants.
Do: Socially distance.
If you can have your holiday festivities outdoors, do so. If you must be indoors with your nearest and dearest, stay at least 6 feet apart. Save the hugs and kisses for next year's family get-together.
Don’t: Swap spit with your high-school sweetheart.
Going home often means reconnecting with old friends – and former flames. But this year, that kind of connection is dangerous. Resist the urge to send a “U up?” text to your high school fuck buddy. Cooties may not be real, but coronavirus most definitely is.
Do: Get drunk at home with your siblings.
Once you’re in a pod of people, don’t stray for the duration of your stay. Hunker down and drown your sorrows together.
Don’t: Get drunk at a bar with strangers.
Bars are one of the major venues transmitting the virus. It simply isn’t safe to gather at your favorite watering hole anymore. You can still drink (and we understand if you have to just to get through the holidays with your family), just do so in a more isolated state.
Do: Enjoy your family.
If coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that life is fragile. We don’t know from one year to the next if we – or the people we love – are going to be around. Don’t forget to tell your family how much you love and appreciate them this year.
Don’t: Let COVID-19 steal your joy.
Take precautions, but don’t let coronavirus completely ruin your celebration. We have to keep living, after all, even in the presence of a deadly virus. Remember to have a little fun, even if the way you have that fun looks different this year.
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