Follow COVID-19 safety protocols during Ganeshotsav this year

Ganesh Chaturthi is just around the corner. We are also excited to welcome Ganpati Bappa into our homes, but there is a constant worry of inviting people at home or celebrating the upcoming festivals in a crowded setting. Well, there goes a famous song, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” and this classic English song seems more relevant in times today than ever before as we navigate the festival season in the COVID-19 era.

Most experts across the country have insisted that staying home is the best and safest option. That doesn’t make it sting less, though. After months of isolation, economic anxiety, and pandemic fatigue, it is entirely understandable that people are yearning for hugs from family members and meet-ups with friends.

But the reality remains that large parties/gatherings, travelling to see friends and family and brushing off masks and social distancing can have serious consequences – the impact of which will be felt beyond your circle. There is no need to celebrate festivals by gathering in a crowd; the festivities can be scaled down too. The good news is, with some modifications, you can still make the most out of our favourite time of the year. Most festivals bring hope and light – and we must hold onto this meaning all the more if we cannot celebrate them in the way we might have in the past. 

GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW SHOULD YOU HAVE A SMALL GATHERING AT HOME:

  • Make your event as safe as possible for guests; ventilate the rooms appropriately or host the event on the terrace/ balcony to enable natural ventilation.
  • Keep the gathering small and short.
  • Encourage people to wear masks and ensure enough space for each guest to maintain at least a 1-meter distance from others.
  • Help your guests follow COVID19 appropriate measures – provide masks, alcohol-based hand sanitiser or access to soap and water, tissues and bins with lids that close.
  • Follow guidance issued by local public health authorities before you plan a gathering.

IF YOU DO PLAN TO GO OUT, HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF ANY INFECTION, INCLUDING CORONAVIRUS.

  • All crowded places should be avoided; festivals should be celebrated with all precautions.
  • Meet people in open areas and maintain required distancing.
  • Wearing a mask is a must once you step out of the house.
  • Six feet or two meters of social distancing is compulsory.
  • Sanitize your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds).
  • Go out with only your social bubble.
  • Spitting is strictly prohibited.
  • Even if you get stuck in a crowd by chance, make sure you are wearing a mask and avoiding face-to-face contact.
  • Wash your clothes with detergent after coming back home and also take a hot water bath.
  • Experts suggest that those with respiratory complaints or a weakened immune system must refrain from venturing out at any cost.
  • Consult a doctor without delay if you notice any symptoms after returning home.

THIS FESTIVE SEASON COULD BE CELEBRATED DIFFERENTLY LIKE THIS:

  • As a family, be there for each other – try to have conversations with family and friends. Maybe a virtual call or small gathering while maintaining social distancing can be done. Listen to how others are coping and act with empathy & understanding.
  • Gift-giving – we’re all in this together and you & your gifts can be a way to share your love with your family and friends.
  • Be aware of overindulging – regardless of whether we can have large celebrations or not, it’s important to keep an eye on what you’re drinking and eating.
  • Celebrating with children – this may be when your children usually get together with cousins or friends. You could try to keep them connected through video calls so they feel included. Spend more time with them, cook for them, and indulge in some fun activities with them.
  • Maintain traditions – you could try to stick to the traditions that you have in place. Whether it’s making a particular meal or decorating your home on a certain day, you can create a sense of normality by maintaining these traditions.

To conclude, we can’t become complacent and should not let our guard down until the maximum population gets fully vaccinated or we reach herd immunity. Till then, we can continue following our traditions and enjoy ourselves with our family and friends while following COVID-appropriate behaviour.

(Dr Sandeep Patil, Chief Intensivist, and Dr Sudhir Gore, Head-Emergency Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan)

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