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Tips for safe celebrations this fall

Photo by Craig Dimmick

As fall holidays and events approach, many are wondering if it’s safe to celebrate them or if it’s simply too risky. Eric Hamberger, a pediatric pulmonologist at UCLA Health, weighs in on why we may need to modify some of our favorite fall holidays and traditions in light of the pandemic.

Q: Is it safe to trick-or-treat this Halloween?

A: Trick-or-treating or any activity where you are exchanging goods, handing out things from a single source, or touching the same objects, can increase the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Even though people don’t seem as worried about catching COVID-19 from direct surface contact as much as they are about the airborne spread of the virus – COVID-19 can still be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated surfaces.

While I do not recommend trick-or-treating, you can be creative within the CDC guidelines and make Halloween fun by holding small festive gatherings or dressing up in your own home.

Q: Are there other fall outdoor activities that are safe right now?

A: Most outdoor activities where social distancing can occur that don’t have a lot of hand-to-hand contact are still safe. Corn mazes, pumpkin patches and apple farms, for example, are activities that can be enjoyed safely so long as the organizers of these activities are following proper safety protocols.

Q: Can people gather for Thanksgiving?

A:  I would recommend we take the same approach as we would with any other gathering right now and that is to limit the number of people attending. I wouldn’t recommend gatherings with more than six people and outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor ones. If you’re used to hosting a party of 20 people at once, this is not the year to continue that tradition, especially when elderly people are present.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday for many people, but just as we have had to make many sacrifices socially over the last six months, this is just one more event where we have to modify our behavior. We just have to remember this is temporary and we will be able to enjoy our fall traditions once again.


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