New COVID health recommendations may benefit Clark Griswold

Clark Griswold might like Bay Area's holiday public health recommendations
Chevy Chase as "Clark Griswold" in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

Decorating your house and yard (within reason) is encouraged. Unplanned visits by Cousin Eddie? Not recommended.

Clark Griswold, the central character in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, might actually appreciate these new Bay Area public health recommendations.

Today, public health officials released suggestions on how families can safely celebrate the holidays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recommendations encourage holiday traditions like decorating homes and yards (although perhaps not as vibrantly as Clark Griswold’s), while discouraging indoor visits from guests who are not part of your household.

Those wanting to share an experience with those who are not part of your household should consider a “virtual meal.” In-person gatherings should be kept small, relatively brief and outdoors, public health officials said.

Christmas caroling is considered unsafe when participants are not wearing masks or social distancing. Activities such as singing, chanting and shouting significantly increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as they release respiratory droplets and fine aerosols into the air, health officials say.

Despite the pandemic, the upcoming holidays can continue to be magical.

“The holiday traditions of writing letters, making cards, and sending gifts is very meaningful, particularly to those becoming more socially isolated,” said Curtis Chan, MD, San Mateo County’s deputy health officer. “Video gatherings and greetings, streaming videos, and other activities can spark joy and spread love during these difficult times.”

So go ahead and decorate your home and tree, and make sure to take time, as Clark did, to gaze up at the great Christmas Star, even if it turns out to be just a bright light from the local sewage treatment plant.

Also, fire safety tip: Make sure to keep your lit-up Christmas tree watered and at least three feet from any heat source, such as Uncle Lewis when he’s lighting a cigar. Christmas trees are a common source of fires during the holiday season.

For more tips on how to stay COVID safe during the holidays, view the full recommendations by Bay Area health officials here.