After an incredibly difficult year for so many, it’s only natural that we want to get together with our loved ones this festive period.
However, the COVID-19 virus is still around so meeting up does come with some risk.
Christine Newman, Deputy Director from Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Centre for Population Health provides some practical tips to help you plan for a safe and joyous festive period.
“No one wants the unwanted gift of COVID this Christmas. Be the one to speak up if you see something that could put you or your loved ones at risk,” said Ms Newman.
“We need to continue to stay alert so we can all safely enjoy this time – we’ve included some simple reminders and tips below about how you can do this.”
Tip 1: Get vaccinated or book your booster
Vaccination is our best way of protecting against serious illness, hospialisation, or death from COVID-19. Protect those around you who cannot be vaccinated yet such as young children by getting vaccinated yourself.
If it’s time for your booster make sure you tick this off your Christmas list too!
Everyone aged 18 years and older may now receive a booster five months after receiving their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The emergence of the Omicron variant is a timely reminder of the importance of booster shots in maintaining a high level of protection against the COVID-19 virus.
Walk-in appointments are available at The Granville Centre Vaccination Clinic or Blacktown Hospital Vaccination Clinic.
Tip 2: Wear a well-fitting mask
If you’re in indoor settings, wear a well-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth.
Even if masks are not compulsory, we strongly encourage them as they add another layer of protection for you and others.
Tip 3: Plan your trip to the shops
We know the festive season is not all about gift-giving, but if you are doing some Christmas shopping, try and visit early when there are fewer people around.
Many stores offer contactless click and collect, or you can shop online. Keep a safe distance from others when shopping – one reindeer apart!
Tip 4: Wash your hands often
Pack hand sanitiser in your handbag before you go out and use it often. If you have kids, remember to wash their hands too!
Avoid putting your hands on high touch point areas such as railings and doors.
If you’re hosting an event, stock up on hand sanitisers and soaps so people have them readily available.
Tip 5: Sometimes saying “No” means I love you
If you have symptoms and/or feel unwell, you should not attend or host an event.
Staying away if we’re unwell means protecting the people we care about most. They will understand!
Try and organise an online gathering if you can. We know it won’t replace face-to-face but it is one other way to connect during this special time.
There are more than 450 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week. To find your nearest clinic visit COVID-19 clinics or contact your GP.
Tip 6: Party outdoors!
Outdoors is safer than indoors. If you can, organise your gatherings outside such as a park, public garden or your backyard.
Try roasting the turkey on the BBQ, picnic by the beach or your favourite park and enjoy being festive outdoors.
If you’re indoors, ensure windows are open to provide ventilation.
With celebratory drinks and food, encourage guests to only use their own cup/glass and avoid sharing utensils or cutlery.
Tip 7: Avoid close contact
No one wants to be a grinch at Christmas, but keeping your physical distance from others will help reduce the risk of COVID-19.
“Our team has developed more tips available in the Living well after lockdown toolkit. I encourage you to download and share information from the toolkit which also includes tips on healthy host entertaining,” said Ms Newman.
“I’d like to wish everyone a safe and happy festive season and thank members of the western Sydney community for working so hard to do their part in helping keep everyone safe.”