Advice to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection during the Christmas holidays
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The pandemic will put a damper on the 2021 Christmas celebration, as it did last year. To reduce the spread of infection, it is necessary to limit contact with family and friends. Here is the NIPH’s advice for the Christmas season.
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The health service sector is under pressure, there are high infection rates and many people need medical attention. The new omicron variant is spreading in Norway, and it appears that it has a significantly higher potential for the spread of infection than the delta variant.
- In order to reduce the risk of infection, we should limit social activities and think carefully about who we prioritise meeting during Christmas, says Department Director at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health Line Vold.
The government has made a national recommendation to have no more than 10 guests at home. However, it is possible to host or participate at one party/social event with up to 20 guests (in addition to those you live with).
- This does not mean that you can have 10 different guests every day, or host 20 guests one day and then go on a visit where you are part of someone else's party of 20 guests another day during Christmas. Think about which social gatherings and overnight stays are absolutely necessary, and which you can do without, Vold asks.
- At the same time, I encourage you to pay attention to and include singles and others who may feel isolated.
Advice to reduce the risk of transmission during the Christmas holidays:
- Symptoms and illness: Stay home or cancel the visit if you or any of the people you live with have symptoms of a recent respiratory infection. This is one of the most important measures to limit the spread of infection. You may want to have a plan for what you do if someone gets sick. This may mean that you have to celebrate Christmas alone or participate digitally. If you get respiratory symptoms, you should stay home and get tested.
- If you test negative, you stay at home until you feel better.
- If you test positive, you should stay isolated. See: What should you do if you have newly-arisen respiratory tract symptoms?
- Maintaining distance: Remember to keep at least 1 metre distance between people who do not live together or are similarly close. Although you can host up to 20 guests for either Christmas or New Year, you cannot host more people than you can accommodate with regards to space. Those who do not live together must be able to keep a distance of 1 metre.
- Same group: A way to limit the number of social contacts is to stick to the same group, where the same people meet over time. Social distancing advice still applies within the group.
- Overnight stays: The national recommendation for a maximum of 10 visiting guests, in addition to those living in the household, also applies to overnight visits. However, you should only accommodate so many people that you can still ensure at least 1 metre distance between people who do not belong to the same household or are similarly close.
- Smittestopp (app): Download and check that the Smittestopp app is active on your phone. With the help of the app, you can quickly be notified or report an infection to other app users, and thus contribute to fewer people becoming infected and ill.
- Hand hygiene and good cough etiquette are important infection control measures that help to prevent transmission of infectious diseases.
- Alcohol: Remember that alcohol and partying can make it more difficult to follow infection control advice.
- Outdoors: We encourage as many people as possible to meet outdoors. Outdoor gatherings can include more people without it involving a high risk of infection, provided they keep a good distance.
- Shared care: Children and young people who have divorced parents with shared care can have normal contact with their parents. In the event of infection in one or both homes, infection control and quarantine advice should be followed.
- Risk groups: It is important to have social contact and not isolate yourself, especially during Christmas and other holidays. When the elderly and other people in risk groups have taken the recommended vaccine doses (including the booster dose) and visitors are fully vaccinated, it is in general sufficient to follow the same infection control advice as others. People in risk groups may consider whether and how close they want to be to unvaccinated children without respiratory symptoms. To reduce risk, one may consider reducing the number of guests who come to visit. See Risk groups and their relatives - advice and information
- Unvaccinated adults: Unvaccinated adults are advised to limit social contact and protect themselves and others, along with several other infection control measures.
- Cabin: When traveling to a cabin / holiday home, the same advice applies as for guests and overnight visits to your own home.
- Travel: For many, it can be important to travel to visit family or friends during Christmas. Most places in Norway observe equally strict measures. However, please note that some municipalities may have even stricter measures than those that apply nationally. If you travel from an area with high infection rates, you should be extra careful. You may want to limit contact with others in the days before the trip, and possibly the first days after arrival. This especially applies to people with an increased risk of a serious disease course.
- Illness while travelling: If you become ill before the trip, you should stay at home. If you become ill while travelling, you should return to your municipality of residence if you are well enough and can travel in a way that does not lead to you infecting others (for example, by avoiding the use of public transport).
Please note that municipalities with outbreaks may have stricter rules. Please refer to the municipality's website for local advice and rules.