cdc holidays

CDC Guidance for Celebrating Holidays in 2021 ‘Being Updated'

Chicago's health department said it plans to release updated Halloween guidance later this week.

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With the coronavirus pandemic continuing into a second holiday season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appeared to have released updated guidance over the weekend for those looking to celebrate safely.

But the portion of the agency's website reflecting holiday guidance, refreshed on Friday, was taken down on Monday.

"The content is in the process of being updated by CDC to reflect current guidance ahead of this holiday season," CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in a statement. "The page had a technical update on Friday, but doesn’t reflect the CDC’s guidance ahead of this upcoming holiday season. CDC will share additional guidance soon."

The page, which remained through the weekend, said the safest way to celebrate remains virtually or outside.

"Attending gatherings to celebrate events and holidays increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19," the guidance read. "The safest way to celebrate is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet apart from others."

But for those who wish to still gather indoors when outside is not an option, the CDC recommended bringing fresh air in.

"If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible," its holiday celebrations guidance stated. "You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows."

It was unclear which portions of the guidance would remain for the 2021 season.

Here is what the CDC recommended before the page became inactive.

For "safe celebrations":

  • Host a video chat party with family and friends to share in the celebration.
  • Plan a special meal with people who live with you inspired by the holiday or event.
  • Have an outdoor celebration with everyone at least 6 feet apart.
  • Watch virtual events and celebrations.
  • Drive or walk around your community to wave to neighbors from a safe distance.
  • Take a food or gift to family, friends, and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others, such as leaving them at the door.
  • Throw a virtual dance party and collaborate with friends and family on a playlist.
  • Celebrate outside with neighbors and friends.
  • Attend a virtual ceremony or celebration.

For making in-person celebrations safer:

  • Get vaccinated when you are eligible.
  • Know when to wear a mask.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.
    • In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings.
      • In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Outdoor activities are safer than indoor gatherings.
  • Have conversations ahead of time to understand expectations for celebrating together.
  • Do not attend or host a gathering if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows.

Thinking of traveling for the holidays? Here are some recommendations:

The CDC recommends that those who are not fully vaccinated delay any travel plans.

  • If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, here are the CDC’s Domestic Travel or International Travel recommendations for unvaccinated people.
  • If you will be traveling with unvaccinated people, such as children younger than 12 who are not eligible for vaccines, follow recommendations for unvaccinated people and choose the safer travel options.
  • Everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated, will still be required to wear a mask on public transportation.

The latest guidance from the CDC comes after Chicago announced the return of some of the city's popular in-person holiday traditions.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday that in-person holiday festivities will return this year, beginning with Halloween.

According to the mayor's office and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Halloween community events will return citywide.

In addition, winter traditions will return at Millennium Park, including ice skating and the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which will be held on Nov. 19.

Last year, the Christmas tree lighting ceremony was conducted virtually and the Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink closed for the season.

Chicago's health department said it plans to release updated Halloween guidance later this week.

"CDPH does follow the CDC and recommend people cons​ult them if they have questions in the meantime," the department told NBC 5 in a statement.

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