State health officials have released guidance on celebrating the upcoming holidays as cases of COVID-19 rise in the Commonwealth.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is urging residents to follow the guidelines to help keep themselves and others safe from the virus.

The state noted that in-person celebrations should be limited to members of your household only and follow state gathering size limits and workplace safety standards. Health officials have also residents to cancel or postpone travel plans, but if you do choose to travel, comply with the state's travel order requirements.

Mass. DPH also outlined what they believe are lower-risk and higher-risk celebrations and activities.

Lower-risk celebrations and activities:

  • Limit in-person holiday gatherings to only the people you live with.
  • Host a virtual holiday dinner with extended family or friends.
  • Prepare foods for family and neighbors and deliver them in a no-contact way.
  • Virtually attend your traditional holiday activities, such as a visit with Santa.
  • Consider virtual caroling or reciting. Provide a link to your virtual caroling to the people you want to sing to.
  • View holiday lights from your car with those you live with.
 Higher-risk celebrations and activities:
  • Anytime you gather with others outside of your household, you increase the risk of contracting or spreading illness. All residents are discouraged from gathering. Gatherings in Massachusetts are subject to gathering size limits.
  • You are risking your health and others health if you host or participate in any in-person festivities if you or anyone in your household:
    • has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not completed the isolation period;
    • has symptoms of COVID-19;
    • is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results;
    • may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
    • is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions.
  • Caroling or reciting in-person: stay more than 25 feet from the people you are reciting or singing for and wear a mask. Remain outdoors while caroling.
  • Santa Claus visits in-person: wear a mask, stay six feet from Santa and others while in line, and make a reservation for your visit where available.
  • Outdoor holiday lights: take a one-way walk with those you live with and maintain distance from others.

Other safety guidance includes:

  • Improve ventilation by opening doors and windows.
  • Don't share food, drink, or utensils, including serving utensils.
  • Seat people with plenty of space (at least six feet) between one another while eating.
  • Always wear a mask and keep distance.  Remove the mask only while drinking or eating)
  • For the 10 days before and after gatherings, monitor yourself for fever or other COVID-19 symptoms, minimize contact with others, and leave home for only essential services (groceries, doctors appointments, work)
  • Obtain a negative COVID-19 test on a sample obtained 72 hours of the gathering.  Even with a negative test, remain vigilant about distancing and masking when around people you don't live with.


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