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How can I safely celebrate Passover, Easter, Ramadan, or other holidays?

Last Updated: 04/13/2021

Given the continued spread of COVID-19, only celebrate the holidays with immediate household members if possible.

Indoor gatherings are particularly dangerous places for the virus to spread. Consider attending a virtual gathering to celebrate the holidays.

Contact your house of worship to see if any live-streamed or televised services may be available or if they have any suggestions on how to create meaningful celebrations at home without gathering in large groups. Congregations should remain vigilant with mitigation efforts such as social distancing, masking, getting tested and cooperating with contact tracers.

If you do attend an in-person religious service or celebration, these indoor gatherings must be limited to 50 percent of a room's capacity. There is no limit for outdoor gatherings for religious services or celebrations.

General gatherings are limited to 25 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.

If you host a gathering:

  • Require everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands, practice social distancing, and stay home if they are sick.
  • Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible.
  • If you do host indoors, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • The smaller the gathering is, the less likely it is that someone is infected and put loved ones at risk.
  • Require guests to wear masks when not eating, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
  • Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others outside their household.
  • Make hand sanitizer available for guests.
  • Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
  • When hosting activities, do so with people only from your local area as much as possible. Activities with attendees traveling from different locations increase the risk of infection and spread, especially if they are coming from or traveling to a location with higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread.
  • Remind invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to the virus in the last 14 days, are showing COVID-19 symptoms, or recently travelled to an area or a state with high COVID-19 infection rates.
  • Limit the number of people handling or serving food—for example, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
  • Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.
  • Consider keeping a list of guests who attended for potential future contract tracing needs. If you are called by a contact tracer, it's critical that you answer the call to protect us all. Your help is the key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.
  • Download theCOVID Alert NJ App. The app is New Jersey's free and secure mobile app that anonymously alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. COVID Alert NJ uses Bluetooth proximity technology, never records any identifying data, and all users will remain anonymous. Download the app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Residents of Long-Term Care Centers

The Department of Health strongly recommends against taking residents out of facilities for holiday celebrations or gatherings -- particularly if those residents are not fully vaccinated.

The CDC previously identified small family gatherings as being a primary driver for case surges after holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. The CDC and the NJ Department of Health recommend that individuals at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 avoid in-person gatherings with individuals with whom they do not live.

Instead of taking residents out of long-term care facilities, the Department of Health encourages families to visit loved ones outdoors at facilities whenever possible. Outdoor gatherings are preferred even when the residents and families are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Before taking a resident out of a long-term care facility, family members should contact the facility's administration to discuss specific safety procedures and complete the COVID-19 Exposure Risk Assessment Template for Patients in Post-acute Care Settings. In certain situations, residents may have to quarantine if they leave the facility in accordance with CDC and DOH guidance.

For more information, refer to the NJ Department of Health's guidance on holiday visitation at long-term care centers, and follow the CDC guidance for celebrating the holidays safely.

Source: DOH Commissioner Remarks (03/24/21);