It’s that time of year when our hearts particularly yearn to be with those we love. Sadly, the CDC recommends that gatherings with those outside your immediate family should be avoided this holiday season.

However, if you do plan to get-together, NCDHHS has more detailed winter holiday guidance to keep you and others safe from COVID-19.

Guidelines for Get-Togethers

Any time people get together there is an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. Whether you’re hosting or attending an event, here are 12 tips for gathering safely and preventing the spread of the virus.

1. Should you host or attend?

Do not host or attend an event if you’re sick, have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, are waiting on COVID-19 test results, or have been told to isolate or quarantine by a health care professional or health department.

2. Consider asking all guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the event.

3. Keep it small.

No gathering should be larger than 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Remember the virus can be spread in smaller gatherings as well.

4. High-risk for COVID-19 complications?

Consider whether you should attend. Practice the 3Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash) at all times, but especially around people who are at high risk for COVID-19 complications.

5. Stay outdoors if you can.

If indoors, open windows to increase ventilation with outside air as much as possible.

6. Wear a mask.

Everyone should wear one over their nose and mouth.

7. Keep it distant.

Arrange space so people from different households can stay distant (at least 6 feet apart) and plan activities where social distancing can be maintained.

8. Eating and drinking?

Make sure you are 6 feet from others when you take off your mask.

9. Limit physical contact.

No handshaking or hugs. Wave or verbally greet each other instead.

10. Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer.

11. Avoid self-serve food.

Limit the number of people handling or serving food. If serving food, have one person serve all food so that multiple people are not handling serving utensils. Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks. Use disposable utensils and dishes.

12. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces, such as door handles, sink handles, and bathroom surfaces.

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Testing Events – Walk-Up or Drive Through

To help North Carolinians better protect themselves and their loved ones during the holidays, the NCDHHS will offer more than 300 no-cost, walk-up, or drive-through COVID-19 testing events over the next two weeks.

For a full list of all testing event times and locations throughout the state, visit the No-Cost Community Testing Events page on the NCDHHS website. More locations are being added each day, and additional testing sites can be found at Find My Testing Place.

For the latest updates on COVID-19 in North Carolina click here.