UBC professor talks holiday safety amid COVID-19

With the holiday season upon us and the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, a University of B.C. instructor has a number of COVID-safe holiday tips this seaosn – including to avoid eating on flights.

In a news release, UBC professor Devon Grayson said if a flight is short enough, that travellers don’t have to eat or drink, it’s safest to wear a mask the whole trip. Meal planning can help travellers avoid eating while in-flight, or at the airport, and wearing a high-quality mask is recommended, they said.

People hosting holiday gatherings should remind guests to stay at home if they exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19, such as coughing and fever. Prior to arrival, guests should be informed of safety expectations, i.e. masks and warm clothing if windows are intended to be opened, or people are expected to congregate outside.

Don’t assume people adhere to the same rules as you do, Grayson said.

If you plan on visiting and are experiencing any symptoms, stay home, said Grayson. In addition, if you plan on travelling, begin curbing non-essential activities (dining out and parties) which, in turn, will curb “the risk of bringing COVID-19 home for the holidays,” they said.

People who will go visiting should be mindful that eating outside is always “the safer choice,” as COVID-19 is an airborne disease, said Grayson. If indoors, wearing a mask, if not eating, helps limit spread, especially if immunocompromised or unvaccinated people are present, as they are more vulnerable, they said.

While COVID-19 is transmissible through the air, Grayson said there is no known risk of catching it from turkey or meals, however, there is potential of catching it through shared silverware, glasses or bottles.

While people shop online for gifts, Grayson said risk of contracting COVID-19 by touching things is low, so people need not worry about quarantining or wiping down packages, although they remind people to always wash hands prior to eating or touching faces.

Grayson said anyone who isn’t vaccinated should do so. Medically vulnerable people may still need to curb socializing this year and they advise reaching out to those feeling isolated in a time where people traditionally come together.

“When making plans, make sure you pay attention to local health authorities as they will update guidelines for your area,” said Grayson.

“While many people are looking forward to a more normal holiday season this year, it’s still safer to keep get-togethers on the small side.”

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