This Is the Safest Way to Gather for Easter Amid COVID-19, According to the CDC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sharing how the public can safely celebrate yet another major holiday during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the CDC guidelines for Easter are a little different than those for previous holidays because they include separate guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated (about 17 percent of the population, per the CDC).
First off, for people who are not vaccinated, the CDC guidelines for Easter are nothing new. As with previous holidays, the safest way to gather for this one is to do so virtually or with only the people living in your household.
Because Easter is a holiday of religious significance for many, the CDC also recommends that people attend religious ceremonies virtually and practice traditional customs at home. Instead of sharing a meal with people, consider delivering meals to neighbors or friends who you might normally eat with. If you plan to gather with people from outside your household, the safest way to do that is still outdoors in a small group with at least six feet between people—a traditional backyard Easter egg hunt could easily fit the bill here—and with everybody wearing masks that are double-layered and well-fitting. (If you do decide to gather indoors with others who are not vaccinated, have everyone wear masks and open windows to provide as much ventilation as possible.)
As for fully vaccinated people, they can have small Easter celebrations indoors with other fully vaccinated people, no masks or social distancing necessary, which is consistent with previously released CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people. (Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after their single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.)
The guidelines for fully vaccinated people hanging out with unvaccinated people depend on the latter party’s risk level. If the unvaccinated people have a low risk for severe COVID-19 illness and complications, then they still don’t need to take any extra precautions. But if the unvaccinated parties are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness and complications (due to factors like underlying health conditions or their age group), then everybody at the gathering—vaccinated or not—should keep taking the usual precautions as if everyone were unvaccinated: wearing masks, gathering outdoors, washing hands, and social distancing.
For those who are celebrating in a group where everyone is unvaccinated (or some people are and others who fall in a high-risk category are not), the CDC has some additional recommendations. For instance, consider discussing safety expectations with everyone who will be there beforehand, avoiding shouting and singing, having people bring their own food and drink, regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, promoting frequent hand washing or sanitizing, providing single-use condiments, and using disposable tableware (or having people bring their own sets).
And what if you’re planning to travel—for the holiday or any other reason? Folks who are not fully vaccinated are still advised not to travel unnecessarily. (If they must travel, they should follow the CDC’s pre- and post-trip testing and self-quarantine guidelines for travel, as well as any state or local requirements, per the CDC.)
But according to the CDC’s updated domestic travel guidelines for fully vaccinated people, they can travel safely in the U.S.—and skip testing or quarantining, unless required by the destination— as long as they’re following certain other precautions. Like unvaccinated travelers, fully vaccinated people are still required to wear a mask on any form of public transportation.
Some other precautions for vaccinated travelers are going to be harder to maintain in a lot of travel scenarios, however, such as avoiding crowds and maintaining at least six feet of distance from other travelers. Obviously, that’s tricky to do (and likely out of your control) on an airplane or train, especially as travel rates rise.
These new travel guidelines are based on the fact that fully vaccinated people are much less likely to contract and spread COVID-19. And the CDC notes that the agency will continue to update travel recommendations as more people get vaccinated, infection rates go up or down, and researchers gather more evidence about how well the vaccines prevent both infections and transmission of the virus. In the meantime, the best bet for most individuals is to keep playing it safe.
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