Austin Public Health shares safety guidelines for holiday celebrations

With the holiday season quickly approaching, and COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increasing across the US, Texas, and Austin-Travis County, Austin Public Health (APH) is sharing safety guidelines for holiday celebrations

These recommendations follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, according to APH. While these guidelines are not additional COVID-19 Rules or Orders, they are strong recommendations for behaviors intended to keep the entire community safe to avoid the surge other counties are seeing in the state.

“As the holidays approach, it is more important than ever to show our loved ones that we care by keeping them safe,” said Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health Director. “It is essential that we pick up new traditions that allow us to be emotionally close to our family while staying physically apart. It’s a challenging time, but if we all work to keep our loved ones safe, we’ll be able to celebrate together again in the future.” 

Holiday plans? Map shows real-time COVID-19 risk for gatherings, by county


Holiday Activity Risk Levels 

APH recommends avoiding all high-risk activities and being cautious with all medium-risk activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Celebrating virtually or with members of your household is the best option this holiday season, but if you still choose to gather traditionally, follow the below guidance to do so safely. 

Low-Risk Activities 

  • Celebrating with members of your household 
  • Decorating your living space 
  • Hosting a virtual gathering with friends and family 
  • Preparing traditional recipes and delivering them in a no-contact manner 
  • Watching holiday-themed movies or shows 

Medium-Risk Activities 

  • Hosting a small dinner with local family and friends outdoors 
  • Attending an outdoor gathering 
  • Visiting orchards and tree farms where hand sanitizer is used before touching objects 
  • Having an outdoor parade or movie night 

High-Risk Activities 

  • Participating in traditional caroling or other door-to-door activities 
  • Attending crowded, indoor gatherings 
  • Going on hayrides with non-household members 
  • Traveling outside your community for gatherings and events 

Do NOT attend in-person celebrations if you: 

  • Have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19 
  • Have symptoms of COVID-19 
  • Are waiting for test results 
  • May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days 
  • Or a household member are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 

Safety Measures

  • Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities - avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, and fully enclosed indoor spaces 
  • Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy, like extra masks and hand sanitizer 
  • Consider avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before the gathering 
  • Minimize gestures that promote close contact, like hugs and handshakes 
  • Maintain physical distancing and masking around people you do not live with 
  • Avoid singing, chanting, or shouting, especially when not masking or physical distancing 
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between uses 

Health officials see evidence that close gatherings are contributing to the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, such as flu. This holiday season, get a flu vaccine to protect you and your families’ health.