Houston health officials recommend limiting holiday gatherings to household members

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The Houston Health Department is encouraging residents to limit in-person holiday gatherings to household members this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We should all be thankful for our health this holiday season and remember those affected by the virus. I encourage everyone to make a few more sacrifices to keep our families and friends safe from the spread of COVID-19,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “This virus thrives on gatherings and will take advantage of holiday festivities to sicken our loved ones and further spread in our community. Although the holidays will look and feel different this year, making smart choices could save the lives of the people you love.”


For those who choose to celebrate in-person with people who don’t live with them, health officials suggest they consider avoiding non-household members for 14 days before and after the event.

“While there isn’t a way to completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19, we can significantly reduce it,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston. “If you must gather, you and your group must plan ahead and commit to restricting contact with anyone outside your household for 14 days before and after the gathering.”

The Health Department says people can interact with friends and family through video calls and avoid the risk associated with in-person gatherings.

Health officials also say outdoor events are safer than indoor events, but attendees will still need to practice social distancing and wear masks when interacting with non-household members.

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As the holiday shopping season begins, the Health Department says shoppers should avoid crowded stores, including during busy Black Friday sales. Instead, they suggest online shopping, curbside pick-up and home delivery. Officials say shoppers can also visit stores at less crowded times of the day, wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer and social distance.

The Health Department says those who may have COVID-19, are experiencing syptoms or were exposed to some who tested positive must not spend any time with other people or leave their homes unless they need medical care.

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