With looser quarantine restrictions, people are more relaxed. Thus, people may crowd malls and bargain centers; Simbang Gabi and Misa de Gallo will attract large groups; and there will be the much-anticipated family reunions, meetups with friends and never-ending Christmas parties.
While COVID-19 vaccines offers some protection, safety protocols remain key due to the possible spread of virus variants.
The Benilde Well-Being Center (BWC) PsychEd team from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde understands the lapses during the celebration of the extended Christmas season.
Susan Coffin, an expert in pandemic influenzas and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP), and Yesenia Marroquin, a clinical psychologist in CHOP-Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, offered tips for a safe Yuletide and New Year.
1. Give the gift of vaccination. Get yourself, eligible family members and friends vaccinated. It is still the best way to stay protected against the virus.
2. Communicate clearly. Be aware of the vaccination status of all your guests. Declare your safety precautions, especially around those who may not find it necessary. Share your own vaccination status and avoid shaming. Instead, inform them of your health measures, such as requiring guests to wear their masks inside your home.
3. Travel thoughtfully. Beginning in terminals and public transportation, follow as many precautions as you can. These include social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks. Flights and long commutes increase the risk of exposure. A required quarantine should also occur after traveling and before interacting with others.
4. Set firm guidelines. Remind guests to wear masks at all times, unless actively eating or drinking. If staying indoors, keep windows open to increase ventilation. Set up staggered seating. Consider the use of disposable utensils and napkins. Cover food when not being served. Designate someone to serve food to avoid cross contamination. Be aware of potentially lax precautions during drinking sessions.
5. Skip physical contact. It is still not the time for hugs, kisses and handshakes. These increase the chances of contracting the virus. Older relatives and those with compromised immune systems may be particularly vulnerable.
6. Expand your options. Gather remotely. Eat together virtually. Honor family traditions.