Holiday Celebrations and Gatherings

As you make holiday plans, consider your most vulnerable family members. Celebrating virtually or with members of your own households poses the lowest risk for spread.

Avoid these activities

  • Large family gatherings. In-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk.
  • Travel during the holiday season. Consider holding virtual gatherings or small gatherings at home.

If you gather in person

See gathering size limits

If you gather in person, consider asking everyone who attends to get tested beforehand and to limit activities outside of essential things such as work and grocery shopping, in order to significantly minimize exposure to others before the celebration—in effect, consider quarantining.

Montgomery County offers more than a dozen testing clinics weekly. They are free and no doctor’s order is needed. Since there are people with COVID-19 who do not show symptoms, knowing that you are not positive for COVID-19 is one way to provide family and friends important information and keep everyone safe. The Maryland Department of Health has information on what to do while waiting for test results (PDF).

Any type of gathering must include

  • mask wearing by everyone
  • maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet
  • regular hand washing
  • sanitizing of high-touch surfaces

Things to consider as you plan for celebrations

  • What is the level of COVID-19 in the community where you will be celebrating?
  • Where are people traveling from? What are the levels of COVID-19 in those communities?
  • How many people are attending? Base your gathering size on reducing or limiting contact between attendees and reducing the risk of spread. Try to keep the group as small as possible.
  • Celebrate outdoors if possible. Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as open doors and windows.
  • Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
  • Are guests practicing social distancing and mask wearing in their day-to-day lives? Everyone’s habits have an impact on everyone gathering, especially older adults who may be especially vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19.
  • Gatherings with strong preventive measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, pose less risk than gatherings where few or no preventive measures are being implemented. Remind guests to wear masks except when eating.
  • Be sure that guests understand expectations and agree to those expectations.

When to avoid gatherings

Do not attend or host a gathering if you or anyone in your household

  • has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and hasn’t met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others.
  • has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • is waiting for COVID-19 test results.
  • may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
  • is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Get your flu vaccine

To keep children and other family members safe during a gathering, it is recommended that everyone receive a flu vaccination.