How to Gather Safely Over the Holidays
Ryan Imgrund - December 21st, 2021

Ryan Imgrund

Christmas gatherings are a time to enjoy the presence of family and friends. Omicron has made doing so considerably more dangerous during the 2021 holiday season.

 

But you can still be safe. Here’s five steps to lower your risk over this holiday season.

 

1. RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS

 

On the day of your gathering or event, just immediately before, test everyone. Consider doing so at the event as opposed to somewhere else. This will help ensure full participation. While awaiting results, people should wait outside, in their car, or inside with a high-quality mask.

 

2. VACCINATION

 

We now know boosters are super important in the battle against Omicron.

Knowing this, if possible, limit your gatherings to people who are fully vaccinated (i.e. two shots plus 7 days after their booster), or who, at least, have received two doses.

 

For the purpose of Omicron, anything less, will provide very little protection against symptomatic infection.

 

It's difficult when it comes to kids - both those under 11 and those under 5. To ensure a "safer" gathering, limit the events your child attends in the days/weeks leading up to the gathering, e.g. sports, parties, etc.

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3. VENTILATION

 

Ideally, every room would be equipped with portable HEPA filtration units. As these will not be present in most homes, open as many windows as comfortably possible. Also, turn on your thermostat so that the exhaust fans are running constantly or as frequently.

If available, monitor the carbon dioxide in the room. Strive for a value under 500 parts per million.

 

4. MASKING

 

When and where possible, a KN95/N95 mask should be worn. While dining and drinking makes this impossible, masking up at other times should just be considered typical behaviour.

5. RISK ANALYSIS

 

Use my daily risk analysis release to determine how safe or unsafe your gathering may be. Personally, I consider any percentage higher than 10% as too much. Especially if your gathering is inside a household - where secondary attack rates average 40%.