Tips to stay safe during holiday gatherings

Nov 24, 2021 | 8:45 AM
Given the ongoing risk for COVID-19, taking a few extra precautions will help us all enjoy the holidays while protecting the health of our family, friends, and communities.

Fall and winter holiday breaks often include large gatherings of families and friends, crowded parties, and travel that may put people at increased risk for COVID-19. We know that these times together are really important, but in an ongoing pandemic with widespread transmission, a few extra precautions will help us all enjoy the holidays while protecting the health of our family, friends, and communities.

Why are we still worried about COVID-19?

Our hospitalization numbers are increasing rapidly, and we want to keep our loved ones out of the hospital and in our homes this holiday season!

Keep in mind:

  • Anytime you gather with people you do not live with the risk of infection increases for everyone.
  • If you have an in-person gathering, your guests won't want to miss out. This could mean that people who are at high risk of complications (such as grandparents) might be at your gathering. So, it's important to think about some extra precautions you can take to minimize spread of COVID-19!

    How do you gather in-person in a way that slows transmission of COVID-19?

  • Get vaccinated (or get your booster shot), since getting vaccinated now will help protect you from getting COVID-19 and slow the transmission to others over the winter holidays.You are fully vaccinated when it has been two weeks since the final dose of your initial vaccine series.More information on vaccine can be found here: About COVID-19 Vaccine - Minnesota Dept. of Health (
  • Tell people who have symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home. Have a back-up plan for how your family and friends can join virtually if someone gets sick.
  • Gather outdoors as much as possible, and the fewer the guests the better.
  • Space out your furniture so it is easy for people to gather without being right next to each other.
  • Avoid gathering in high-risk places like bars, events, parties, or other crowded situations that would put you and your loved ones at risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • If you have loved ones who are at higher risk and attending your gathering (grandparents or someone with an underlying condition), you should consider taking a couple extra precautions regardless of your vaccination status:
  • Get tested, and encourage other guests to get tested, 1-3 days before the gathering.
  • Mask as much as possible, especially when you are not able to physically distance or if it is crowded.
  • Don’t let people come if they are sick.
  • Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated (and even if you are fully vaccinated, if the community is experiencing substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission).


If you are thinking about traveling away from campus or your local community during the break, it is important to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Traveling can put people at greater risk of getting sick.

Before you travel, consider:

  • Whether you, someone you are traveling with, or someone you are visiting are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.You will want to take extra precautions of testing beforehand, masking while you travel, and making sure you are fully vaccinated or have had a booster if you are recommended to get one.
  • Whether you would be able to miss work, school, or other activities if you got sick.
  • Lay low before you go. Plan to stay at home and interact only with the people in your household for at least 14 days before traveling. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and don’t know it, this will help ensure that you don’t spread it others during travel or to your loved ones when you visit.

After you travel:

Follow extra measures like distancing and masking around those at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Additional Resources:

From the Minnesota Department of Health

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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