Safe gatherings at Christmas

2020 has been a challenging year. Limited gatherings and closed borders made it tough for families and friends to meet and spend time together.

It is especially important when you gather over Christmas to remember COVID-19 is still with us.

Western Sydney Local Health District’s Public Health Unit director Dr Shopna Bag said it was important to follow health guidelines when celebrating at home or while out.

“Our community has been very supportive during this difficult year, and I am grateful for that. We all want to relax after the events of the past 10 months, but I would like to remind everyone to be careful,” Shopna said.

“Keep your family and community safe by following the latest NSW Health rules. Before hosting a party, let your guests know about the safety rules and make sure they are okay with them.

“You can even make it fun – decorate your hand sanitisers, or think of other ways to make your party lively.”

Here are some tips to help you celebrate safely:

  • Host your party outdoors. If it is not possible, choose a large, open-aired room. Open doors and windows if possible.
  • Ask your guests to stay home and get tested if they feel unwell. If you are unwell, don’t have visitors, get tested immediately and self-isolate until you get a negative result.
  • Stay 1.5 metres apart from people you don’t live with.
  • Limit the time spent with your guests. Plan for one or two hours instead of a longer gathering.
  • Don’t use shared plates and avoid buffet-style meals. Give each person their own portion.
  • Wash hands regularly and place hand sanitiser around the main “touch points”.
  • Have a list of who is visiting – their names and phone numbers. This will help if you need to provide the details to the contact tracing team.
  • If you are over 70 or already have a medical condition, limit the number of visitors and take care at all times.
  • If you don’t have enough space to be COVID-safe at home, consider gathering at an outdoor public place such as a park or other venue.

If you are gathering at a venue:

  • Book ahead and ask the venue what COVID-safe measures they have in place. Try to book an outdoors area.
  • Don’t go to crowded or noisy places where we are more likely to raise our voices or shout. This will reduce passing on saliva and cut the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • It’s important everybody in your group (including children) checks in, for example by using a QR code.

Remember on December 24, 25 and 26, for the Greater Sydney region, Central Coast, Wollongong and Nepean Blue Mountains the following conditions are in place:

  • Household gatherings will be limited to 10 visitors (plus children under 12 years old). Note there are additional conditions in place for the Northern Beaches: See advice here.
  • The one person per four square metre rule is in place for all indoor settings including hospitality venues and places of worship.

From 27 December household gatherings will be limited to 10 visitors including children.