With the holiday season in full swing, employers might want to give a thoughtful boost of morale by holding a traditional holiday party. However, this year’s holiday season isn’t like others. If festivities are to be held, they must be done with the proper precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered considerations to help protect individuals, families, and the workplace throughout this holiday season. Remember to always assess your local COVID-19 numbers to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees to any holiday events hosted this year. By being responsible and taking the appropriate safety measures, you can provide your employees with a festive celebration while remaining safe.
Holiday Parties During COVID-19 Pandemic
Risks At Holiday Parties
When it comes to a holiday celebration, there are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others. In combination, these factors can create various amounts of risk, so it’s important to consider them individually and all together:
- The location of the gathering: Gatherings held indoors with poor ventilation pose a higher risk for the spread of COVID-19. Consider outdoor gatherings or venues with open windows and good ventilation.
- The duration of the gathering: Gatherings that last longer pose a greater threat than those of a shorter duration.
- The number of people at the gathering: The CDC does not have a limit or recommendation for a specific number of attendees for gatherings. However, the size of holiday events should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees.
- The behaviors of attendees prior to and during the gathering: Gatherings with people who have not been social distancing, wearing a face covering, or following hand washing guidelines pose a threat to the event. Also, it’s essential for these safety measures to be upheld during the holiday event.
Employees Who Shouldn’t Attend In-person Celebrations
It should go without saying that any individual with symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend an in-person gathering. However, those who are waiting for test results, may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not met the criteria to be around others again should also be prohibited from attending. Even if individuals show no signs of symptoms, they can still carry and spread the disease so don’t leave anything to chance.
General Considerations Prior To Holiday Event
Holiday gatherings usually entail large groups that may put employees at increased risk for COVID-19. If you want to hold an event for your organization, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities, if possible. If you’re not able to host an outdoor event and you choose to host an indoor event, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces.
- Only allow employees who regularly work in-person to attend.
- Provide updated information to your employees about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and prevention steps your business is taking.
- Provide sanitary supplies, or encourage employees to bring supplies, to help keep everything clean.
If you are planning an in-person holiday gathering with people outside the workplace, consider asking them to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering. Although this may seem excessive, it’s the safest precautions you can take to avoid the spread of illness this holiday season.
General Considerations During Holiday Event
Keep these CDC tips in mind to reduce the risk of being exposed to, contracting, or spreading COVID-19 during your organization’s event.
- Social Distance: Maintain a distance of 6 feet away from any person you don’t live with or regularly come in contact with. Additionally, it’s important to be mindful in areas where it may be harder to socially distance such as restrooms and eating areas. Minimize gestures that break social distancing guidelines like shaking hands, hugging, or kissing. Instead, wave and verbally greet each other.
- Wear Masks or Cloth Face Coverings: Wearing a mask or cloth face covering throughout the entire event will help prevent the spread of any illness. This is especially important for events that are held indoors. You should also avoid singing, chanting, or shouting as these all increase the respiratory droplets in the air.
- Limit Contact With Commonly Touched Surfaces or Shared Items: Any commonly touched surface or shared item should be disinfected prior to and after use. If possible, use touchless garbage cans and always use gloves when handling and throwing away trash. Another great measure to prevent the spread is providing disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer at every table or commonly shared area.
- Keep Safe Around Food and Drinks: Although there is no current evidence to suggest that handling and eating food is associated with directly spreading COVID-19, it’s still possible that a person can get the virus by touching food, food packaging or utensils. When eating or drinking, masks are not being worn and our hands come in close contact with our mouth/nose. That’s why it’s especially important to promote thorough handwashing with soap and hot water especially if food and beverages will be provided at the event.
General Considerations For After The Celebration
If you believe that there may have been high-risk activities or that you were exposed to COVID-19 during the celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to protect your community:
- Stay home unless absolutely necessary.
- Avoid contact with people who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Consider getting tested to be sure.
Make it clear to employees that if they do show symptoms of COVID-19 after the holiday event they must immediately contact you and others who attended.
Protect Your Business This Holiday Season
Holiday parties are common for businesses as an end of the year celebration. However, these traditional activities can pose a threat to your health and the health of your business due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As an employee benefits and HR consulting firm in the Tampa Bay region, Alltrust wants to ensure that your employees and your business are always protected by taking the right precautionary measures. For more information on how to stay safe this holiday season, contact us today.