The air has turned crisp and the winds are howling, suggesting that fall is upon us and the holidays are fast-approaching. With the support of our community, we are hoping to face a different holiday season than the last. With at least 86% of Santa Monicans vaccinated against COVID-19 and having far more information about the disease, we’re well prepared to implement what works this holiday season to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy.  

Healthy Hauntings 

Having a healthy Halloween will help ensure we avoid the start of a community COVID-19 surge and keep our children healthy and in school before they are able to be vaccinated. Here are some tips to keep COVID at bay and still enjoy the spooky season.  

If you’re able to be vaccinated and haven’t taken your shot, get vaccinated now to be able to celebrate the holidays safely with family and protect your loved ones. Find a clinic near you here.  

If you’re not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, wear a mask when around people outside of your household, including in busy outdoor locations.  

Outdoor, uncrowded environments are safer. Get in the spirit with an outdoor neighborhood costume parade, hayride, or pumpkin patch visit.  

If you have unvaccinated persons in your household, choose a Safer Halloween option to keep your distance from others and avoid mixing with people you don’t know.  

While allowed, trick-or-treating poses some risks. Reduce your family’s risk by wearing a face mask, avoiding crowded streets, bringing hand sanitizer and using frequently, and only trick-or-treating with your family or a small group you know well.  

When handing out treats, set up a candy station outdoors or make sure you wear a mask and give out individually packaged treats outdoors.  

For more ideas visit, http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/docs/community/guidancehalloween.pdf 

Holiday Gatherings  

Hosting a holiday gathering last year likely caused as much stress as a visit from your in-laws! From weekend sports watch parties to formal holiday meals, use the tried and tested rules below to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Use a VIP (Vaccinated Individuals, Please) guest list. When hosting or attending an event, ask about people’s vaccination status and recent risks.  

Stay home when you’re sick. Even if you think it’s a small cold or bad allergy day, skip the party. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get a test and stay home until you receive your results. Make an appointment at a COVID-19 testing site near you, including the new Clover Park location.  

Keep gatherings outdoors. If bad weather ruins your outdoor plans, keep the group small, vaccinated, and open doors and windows to improve air flow.  

When in doubt, mask up. When you must gather indoors with others and aren’t sure about everyone’s vaccination status, wear a face mask.  

Be prepared for large events. For mega event indoor and outdoor gatherings, remember that you are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and photo identification.

Use extra care if immunocompromised. People who have weakened immune systems are still at risk of contracting the Delta variant, even if fully vaccinated. It’s best for these individuals to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, unless told otherwise by their health provider. 

Boost up if eligible. If you are over 65 years old or in a high-risk group and are eligible, consider getting your booster shot before the holidays for an extra dose of protection. Check booster eligibility here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html

While restrictions have relaxed, it’s up to all of us, even fully vaccinated persons, to keep each other healthy when gathering throughout the holiday season. Thank you Santa Monica for getting vaccinated, wearing your mask indoors, and working together to keep our community on the path of recovery during this pandemic. 

Submitted by: Lindsay Call, Chief Resilience Officer