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If you must travel for the holidays, ‘be informed of the risks involved’

A traveler passes through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on March 15, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

While Thanksgiving is still two months away, local and national health officials have indicated already that holidays in 2020 will — and should — look different for most families than in years past.

As October nears, Skagit County health officials said they discourage in-person trick-or-treating this year, and the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce canceled its treat-or-treating event to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Downtown Edmonds cancels trick-or-treating as pandemic Halloween looms

Public Health — Seattle & King County released advice for safer Halloween celebration options, while recognizing that we all need “some festivity, especially in the midst of all we’ve had to deal with this year.” Luckily, a number of spooky activities for Halloween can be held outside, and mask wearing is part of the holiday.

That said, there are still risks, as with almost any activity during the ongoing pandemic. When planning for Halloween or the holiday season, health officials say to follow the same basic recommendations: limit close contact with other people, limit touch points, and practice good hand hygiene.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a list of safe, low-risk Halloween activities.

Thanksgiving, unlike Halloween, is a time when many people travel to see relatives or friends and celebrate together.

“Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC warns. “Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved.”

Officials with the CDC recommend: having a small dinner with only people in your household; preparing traditional family recipes for nearby family and neighbors and delivering them in a no-contact way; having a virtual dinner; shopping online rather than in-person after Thanksgiving; and watching sports, parades, and movies from home as low-risk activities.

The CDC also includes moderate and high-risk activities, recommending that the high-risk options be avoided to help prevent the spread of the virus.

For those that do decide to travel for the holidays, expect a “new normal” at the airport and on airplanes, especially in Washington state.

Gov. Inslee announced new protocols this week for airports statewide in an effort to keep all Washington residents safe and healthy now and through the holidays. While he has called for a uniform national standard for air travel via letters to federal government officials, Washington’s guidance “sets a baseline standard” for safe travel at airports in the state.

“The steps we’re taking will help protect those who need to fly,” Inslee said. “This guidance isn’t just about Sea-Tac — these requirements apply to airports across the state — Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, and Everett, too.”

Most airlines — including Alaska and Delta — have been requiring passengers to wear a mask or face covering at all times, and have fines and consequences in place for those who do not comply.

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