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The 2020 Holidays: Celebrating Safely This Year


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Santa Barbara homeowners need to be especially careful during the 2020 holiday season in the age of COVID-19. While the holidays are normally a popular time to attend gatherings or travel, spikes in COVID-19 cases caused the State of California, along with other states, to tighten restrictions again. 

Stay-At-Home Orders

A November 19 Limited Stay-at-Home Order went into effect in the Golden State requiring all non-essential work and activities stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for counties in the purple tier, which includes Santa Barbara. In fact, Santa Barbara County was put into the Purple Tier in early December and has not met the criteria to move back to the Red Tier yet as our positivity rates continue to remain high.

A December 3 Regional Stay at Home order divided the state into five regions. If a region’s ICU capacity drops below 15%, the Regional Stay at Home Order will go into effect for at least three weeks. It prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes most businesses except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing.

Protect Yourself, Your Loved Ones and Your Community

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 during the 2020 holidays is to avoid being exposed to the virus. If you aren’t exposed, you won’t be able to infect your loved ones or other members of the community. Just follow these guidelines:

  • wear a mask when out in public
  • practice physical distancing
  • wash hands frequently
  • minimize time spent with people outside of your household
  • search the state website by your zip code regularly to see if your region is impacted by any new restrictions. You can also use this tool to decide if it’s safe to host gatherings or attend small holiday celebrations.

The word Kwanzaa with candles in the background

How to Stay Safe While Resuming More Activities in Public

Before you decide to resume more activities in public, consider:

  • Whether COVID-19 cases are increasing or decreasing in your immediate community
  • How vulnerable you and your loved ones are to illness
  • Whether you can maintain a safe distance from others

Remember: The more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.

Follow State Guidelines

If you’re determined to hold small gatherings in your area during the 2020 holidays, follow these State of California’s guidelines:

  • Attendance – Keep it small
    Gatherings that include more than three households are prohibited. Remember, the smaller the number of people, the safer.
  • Location – Outside is better
    Outdoors gatherings are significantly safer than indoor celebrations. In the Purple Tier, all gatherings should take place outdoors. If you must take your party indoors, increase fresh air circulation by opening windows or doors, as much as possible, especially in the rooms where people are gathering. When indoors, it’s safer for household pods to eat together.
  • Don’t attend or host if you feel sick
    Anyone with any COVID-19-like symptoms must stay home and not come into contact with anyone. Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, night sweats, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, muscle or body aches, headaches, confusion, or loss of sense of taste/smell.
  • High-risk groups should go virtual
    People at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, such as older adults and people with chronic medical conditions, are strongly urged not to attend any gatherings, especially indoor gatherings. Connect with families over the phone or online. If you do go in person, keep your visit short, stay at least six feet from others, wear a surgical or multi-layer cloth mask, and spend more time outside rather than indoors.
  • Physical distancing and hand hygiene required
    For any gatherings, the space must be large enough for everyone to maintain at least a 6-foot physical distance from others (not including their own household) at all times. Everyone should wash their hands with soap and water frequently, or use hand sanitizer. Don’t share utensils, food or drinks.
  • Face coverings at all times
    When gathering, face coverings must be worn around anyone you don’t live with unless an exemption is applicable. People at holiday get-togethers are advised to remove their face coverings only when they are actively eating or drinking.
  • Length – Keep it short
    Gatherings should be two hours or less. The longer the duration, the bigger the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • Is it safe to travel?
    Travel during the 2020 holidays increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. The State of California recommends limiting travel to no farther than 2-3 hours by car. If you must travel out of the state or country, you should quarantine for 14 days upon your return. Don’t travel:

    • If you are sick
    • If you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days
    • If someone you were planning to travel with is sick

Before you decide to travel, check with the local health department where you are starting from, along your route, and at your planned destination then follow all recommendations.

How can I minimize my risk if I do go outside?

If you must go out in public, follow the 5 steps below to protect yourself and others:

  • Wear a mask or face covering
    It is now required that everyone in California must wear a mask or face covering when outside of their home, with limited exceptions.

    • Wear a mask correctly and consistently for the best protection
    • Choose a mask that covers your nose and mouth, goes under your chin, and fits snugly against the sides of your face
    • Be sure to wash your hands before putting on a mask
    • Do not touch the mask during or after wearing it
  • Practice physical distancing
    Under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away, according to the CDC. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had poor ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Reduce close contact (less than 6 feet) for prolonged periods with others outside of your immediate household
  • Avoid gatherings, large crowds, and indoor spaces with poor ventilation
  • Keep at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) apart from others outside your household
  • Wash hands frequently
    Keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Minimize mixing
    In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer the time spent together, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. It’s important to remember:

    • Interacting with more people outside of your household raises your risk
    • Spending longer amounts of time with people outside of your household also increases risk
    • Gatherings that include more than three households are prohibited in California
  • How to stay healthy while at home
    Stress, lack of movement, and poor eating choices can easily erode your health during the shelter in place. Healthy eating and self-care can be a great way to lower your risk of getting sick. That’s why experts suggest everyone follow these tips:

    • Eat better
    • Manage stress
    • Treat chronic conditions like diabetes

Please stay safe during the 2020 holidays – and beyond! If you are considering buying or selling a home here, I can take care of everything safely. Just visit me, Cristal Clarke on my comprehensive website, call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Have a safe and happy holiday season!


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