Keeping safe during spring holiday celebrations

Due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic, traditional gatherings are still unsafe. A UAB expert encourages the continuation of mask wearing and social distancing during Easter and Mother’s Day celebrations.

spring holiday.3Throughout the last year, traditional holiday parties have been replaced by virtual parties or small outdoor gatherings. Due to the COVID-19 variants, and the limited number of people who are fully vaccinated, a University of Alabama at Birmingham infectious diseases expert recommends we continue to mask and social distance while celebrating upcoming spring holidays. 

Ellen Eaton, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases, says this is especially important as we approach holidays like Easter weekend and Mother’s Day, when many unvaccinated people may be more likely to gather indoors for shared meals and other gatherings. 

“We remain very enthusiastic about the available coronavirus vaccines and increasing accessibility to vaccines, but only a minority of Americans are fully vaccinated,” Eaton said. “In addition, we are seeing more transmissible coronavirus variants, which are now widespread across the United States.”

Several states have relaxed public policy, allowing more gatherings without masks. These changes, plus spring break travel, can put many unvaccinated individuals at risk for these more contagious variants.  

“We have not seen a significant increase in our community yet, but we need to follow the testing rates and cases closely as we see restrictions relaxing in the next few weeks and months,” Eaton said. “Bottom line is that we need to continue doing all the measures that have kept us safe for the last year — masking when indoors, avoiding gatherings and getting outdoors when possible — so that our case rate declines rather than rises as we saw with other holidays."

"We need to continue doing all the measures that have kept us safe for the last year — masking when indoors, avoiding gatherings and getting outdoors when possible — so that our case rate declines rather than rises as we saw with other holidays.” - Ellen Eaton, M.D.

Here are five safe alternatives that can be substituted for traditional spring holiday celebrations:

  • Support a local restaurant by ordering meals to be delivered or picked up before a scheduled Zoom chat. 
  • Find a friend or family member who can lead a fun, easy project on Zoom. Consider a mask-making or -decorating party that allows time for discussion, then show your mask and talk about what it says about you.
  • Community service events held outdoors — with proper distance — are a great way to give back to the Birmingham area and do something fun and productive with your team.
  • Enjoy the sights and sounds of spring at a local park or hiking trail that allows you to spend time together outdoors.