East Orange, NJ, November 20, 2020: As the various fall and winter holidays approach, Mayor Ted R. Green and Dr. Monique S. Griffith, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, are asking all residents to adhere to all CDC and state guidelines related to COVID-19 safety and prevention protocols. This will not be a normal holiday season and it’s important to take the state and federal guidelines into consideration when planning.
- Travel is discouraged. If you must travel for the holidays, please note that NJ currently has a restriction on travel from 45 states and jurisdictions. This list is consistently updated and to find an updated list of states and jurisdictions, visit here: NJ Travel Restrictions.
- Individuals traveling to or returning to New Jersey from states with increasing rates of COVID-19 are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. This includes travel by train, bus, car, plane and any other method of transportation.
- In addition, please assess your risk for COVID before traveling. Older adults and people with pre-existing conditions are at an increased risk for severe illness due to COVID-19. If you are at an increased risk, consider alternatives to your traditional holiday gatherings.
- The state issued an executive order for indoor gathering effective November 17, 2020 limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people. We encourage gathering with your immediate household. If you do celebrate with people outside of your immediate household, limit the number of attendees. Ask your guests to avoid contact with others 14 days prior to the celebration. Have guests wear masks when they are not eating or drinking, practice social distancing, and wash their hands frequently.
- Consider having anyone who is not in the immediate household get tested for COVID before arriving. It is important to remember that COVID tests are “point in time” tests, which means they tell you whether or not you have/had COVID when you took the test. It is still possible to be exposed to COVID after testing. After getting tested, guests should still take all precautionary measures to prevent COVID-19.
- Increase ventilation in your home by opening up the windows. Although weather in the late fall and winter can be unpredictable, increasing ventilation decreases the risk of COVID. If you cannot open the windows, place central air and heating on continuous circulation.
- Guests should also avoid hugs and handshakes with people outside of their immediate families.
Suggestions for a Safer Holiday Gathering
Due to the increase in cases throughout the state, here are some ideas you can use to make your holiday gatherings safer. Once again, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people or less.
- Adopt a buffet style of sharing food while eliminating the sharing of serving utensils to reduce person-to-person contact and ensure adequate social distancing.
- If the weather is nice and you have outdoor space, consider dining outdoors for the holiday dinner.
- Minimize the number of people preparing food. During dinner, keep the number of people going in and out of the kitchen to a minimum.
- Using single use plates, cups, eating utensils, and napkins is a safer alternative to formal dinnerware.
- When serving dinner, identify one person to serve shareable items, like salad dressings. Wash hands and use sanitizer after handling all serving utensils.
- Make your gathering virtual. While it’s understandable that this is NOT the same, consider setting up a virtual gathering for the holiday. You can all have dessert together and come together for a family game.
- Buy extra supplies: disposable masks, hand sanitizers, and plenty of soap for people to wash their hands. Also, stock bathrooms with single use towels.
On behalf of the East Orange Department of Health & Human Services, we wish you a safe, healthy, COVID-19 free holiday season!