coronavirus pandemic

Fairfax County Health Dept. Ranks Holiday Gatherings, Activities by Risk Level

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Fairfax County health officials came out with a list of holiday coronavirus guidelines on Monday, breaking up activities into varying risk categories.

Starting with family celebrations, the county health department listed large gatherings, travel and flights with layovers as high risk.

Medium risk gatherings include those outdoors, where everyone is masked and a at a safe distance -- and no one shares plates or utensils. Flying without a layover is also not as risky.

Of course, the lowest risk option is staying at home and gathering virtually.

For shopping, the health department recommends avoiding crowded malls either indoor or outdoor and keep grocery trips as short and infrequent as possible.

If you must go into a store, try to have items pre-ordered and ready for pickup, and touch as few items on the shelf as possible.

The safest thing to do is to shop online, and have gifts delivered, the health department said. Wait for the delivery driver to be 6 feet away before getting packages.

As for holiday entertainment, indoor events, crowded tree lighting ceremonies and big parties are all high-risk. The same goes for kids sitting on Santa's lap at the mall.

Outdoor events are medium risk, and visits with Santa can be okay if capacity is limited, and mask and distance guidelines are followed.

The lowest risk activities are watching concerts or ceremonies at home, and the health department encourages parents to get their kids to mail a letter to Old Saint Nick, instead of visiting him at the mall.

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