If you must gather, do it safely with pandemic precautions

File photo
File photo (Story Blocks 2020)

There’s no place like home for the holidays, unless you’re alone.

Loneliness is often amplified this time of year and may be intensified by pandemic isolation.

Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic, said the best way to avoid COVID-19 is to stay home, but if you need to visit for your mental and emotional health, be sure you’re taking proper precautions.

“Set up the rules ahead of time. Know how many people are coming,” she said. “Everybody agrees to masks and social distancing and agree that there’s not going to be the holiday hugs and kisses on the cheek that we normally want to do, but that’s okay this year, we need to do it to be safe.”

Englund said get-togethers should be 10 people or less, and fewer is better.

People who live in different households should be spaced 6 feet apart.

It’s also a good idea to have guests bring their own food -- that way people aren’t sharing serving utensils or getting too close when lining up at the buffet table.

And everyone needs to wear mask, including the hosts.

“Anybody who’s coming into the home that’s outside of your family unit, it’s important that you wear a mask if they’re coming in, and ask them to wear a mask,” advised Englund.

Englund said families can also consider celebrating virtually. Connecting online is a good way to safely interact with loved ones this holiday season.