By now, you and a few billion of your closest friends are probably yearning to throw an epic party. One monster, global New Year’s Eve bash to say, “Good riddance, 2020!”
But don’t. Just. Don’t.
Oh, it’s fine to relegate 2020 to the dumpster. And it’s more than fine to welcome 2021 with enthusiasm and hope.
Just do it at home with your household family.
Protect yourself and others
The COVID-19 pandemic is roaring through the traditional winter holiday season. Vaccines are on their way to the public, but it likely will be several months before the majority of people in the United States have access to them.
Meanwhile, the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 remains avoiding close contact with people outside your immediate household. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “close contact” as 15 total minutes within a 24-hour period.
People should also diligently practice the “3 Ws”:
- Wear a face mask in public.
- Watch your physical distance – stay at least six feet away from people outside your household.
- Wash your hands frequently.
All of these help us protect ourselves and each other from the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
Prioritize these guidelines
Human nature being what it is, some people will decide they can’t do New Year’s Eve without a party. They’ll go out with friends – and maybe people they don’t know. Or maybe they’ll host the party themselves.
If that’s you, at least follow some basic guidelines to limit potential virus spread.
“If you’re going out, make sure you go somewhere that has capacity to handle the crowd. Wear a mask and still maintain that physical distancing. You should also avoid the punch bowl or touching handles and surfaces that everyone else is touching. Take hand sanitizer and use it,” said Melinda Cooling, vice president of advanced practice for OSF HealthCare.
“If you’re hosting, don’t pack your house. Keep it small. This is probably not the best time to have a cooler where everybody’s hands are going in to grab their drinks. Don’t have a buffet line. Serve your food using single servings. Use disposable utensils, dishes and cups.”
Also, this is not the year for an all-nighter. Keep the party short. And you should wear facemasks and try to maintain that six feet of distance. Have plenty of hand sanitizer for people to use. Wipe down frequently used surfaces, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. If possible, keep some windows open to facilitate air circulation.
When it comes time to toast the arrival of 2021, go ahead and raise your glasses – but don’t clink them together. And one more thing, Melinda said:
“Avoid the midnight kiss and hug.”
Don’t take unnecessary risks
One way you might stay safe is to create a small and exclusive “bubble” of close friends and family. Read about the bubble concept here.
But a bubble does not carry a guarantee.
If you aren’t feeling well, stay at home – or cancel your party, if you are the host.
But remember, an infected person can be contagious up to 48 hours before having symptoms. And some infected people never experience symptoms but are contagious.
“The hard thing is still asymptomatic people,” Melinda said. “Some feel fine. They have no fever or symptoms, but they’re still actively carrying the virus. That’s why wearing a mask and maintaining that physical distance are so important.”