The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday issued updated holiday guidance "to help people celebrate more safely as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic," including considerations for travel, gatherings and holiday guests.
"Last year, many people held off getting together with family and friends during the holiday season due to the pandemic,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. "This year, we have a safe and effective vaccine to help protect against severe illness due to COVID-19 that will allow friends and families to more safely celebrate together."
Ezike said that while getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones, there are other ways to safely celebrate during the upcoming holidays.
Travel safety considerations:
- Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated, or wait until you get a booster shot if eligible
- If you’re not fully vaccinated, test 1-3 days before and 3-5 days after traveling
- Travel during off-peak times to avoid crowds
- Drive a private vehicle to reduce exposure to COVID-19
- If using public transportation, try to travel during non-peak times. Masks are required on/in all areas of mass transit
Guests and gatherings:
- Keep indoor gatherings small
- Arrange seating and other areas to allow for physical distance
- Increase air flow by opening windows and/or doors
- Avoid having people congregate, such as in the kitchen or at the buffet
- Clean and sanitize the kitchen, bathrooms, and other areas used by guests
"People who are sick with fever, cough, or other symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should not travel or gather for holiday events during that time," Ezike stressed in the guidance.
The CDC released its updated guidance last month, which echoed Ezike's message about getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
For those who are not vaccinated or are not eligible for vaccination, the agency outlined continued safe travel practices:
- Avoid crowds
- Maintain a six-foot distance from others
- Wash hands or using hand sanitizer regularly