Pumpkin carving is considered a low risk Halloween activity by the CDC.

As temperatures drop below 100 degrees, fall and winter holidays are on the mind. However, with COVID-19 still rearing its head, the question remains: is it safe to gather for the holidays this year?


Planning the event

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement that Yom Kippur, Halloween, Día de Los Muertos, Navratri, Diwali and Thanksgiving "will likely need to be different this fall to prevent the spread of the virus." The CDC stated considerations on its website are meant to supplement, not replace, local laws.

According to the CDC, there are a variety of factors that come into play when planning for a holiday event, such as location and duration of the event, number of guests, where the guests are coming from and behaviors of guests prior to and during the event.

It is recommended to host events in an open, well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. Guests must be limited to 10 people in Austin and masks must be worn anytime people are indoors, though it is recommended to wear them anytime you are in contact with people.

If you have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, you should not participate in any in-person events or gatherings, per the CDC.

Halloween

Traditional Halloween activities like trick-or-treating, attending indoor costume parties and haunted houses, where people are typically crowded and screaming, are considered "high risk" activities, per the CDC. However, there are still safe ways to enjoy spooky season.

To enjoy a low-risk Halloween, the CDC recommends virtual costume party events, carving pumpkins with family or a small group of friends, or a Halloween movie marathon with the people you live with.

If you feel safe enough to do so, visiting an outdoor costume party or haunted house is considered "moderate risk" as long as social distancing and mask guidelines are enforced.

Dìa de los Muertos

Celebrating the Day of the Dead this year may look a bit different, but there are plenty of safe ways to celebrate your loved ones on Nov. 1.

For low-risk activities, the CDC recommends creating an altar for your deceased loved ones in your home, playing music they enjoyed and celebrating the way you normally would but from home.

If you can't imagine celebrating without people around you, it is safest to be around others in an outdoor space with a limited number of people. The CDC recommends a small, socially-distanced parade outdoors, visiting gravesites or hosting a small dinner for close friends and family.

Thanksgiving

To avoid the most risk, it is best to refrain from shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday (hey, there's always Cyber Monday). The same goes for parades or sporting events—they are best to avoid.

If you normally celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with just immediate family members, feel free to continue as planned. It is also safe to hold a virtual Thanksgiving or to carefully celebrate with a small number of people you feel safe and acquainted with.

After the celebration

In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible, it is important to stay home as much as possible for two weeks; limit interactions with people, especially those who are of increased risk; and consider getting tested for the virus.

Symptoms can appear within two days to two weeks of coming into contact with the virus.

However you choose to celebrate, enjoy a safe, thoughtful and happy holiday season.

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