The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is well underway and has injected us with a dose of optimism. And with Easter weekend on the horizon, many people may want to lean into that hope by letting their guard down slightly and celebrating.
But here’s a reminder if those celebrations lead you to church on Sunday: Easter services still have the potential to be coronavirus superspreader events.
The reality is that we still have to follow public health guidelines as everyone continues to get their COVID-19 shots. That includes wearing face masks and controlling respiratory droplets by limiting activities such as singing and avoiding crowds ― all protective measures that are hard to follow when you’re in church. When people don’t adhere to these guidelines, it can be dangerous. Back in October, multiple convocation events at a Charlotte, North Carolina, church were linked to a COVID-19 outbreak and several deaths. And those are far from being the only incidents caused by a church gathering.
So what is OK to do right now? Here’s how you can celebrate safely this weekend:
Find a virtual service.
The best way to observe the holiday is virtually. Check if your church is offering any online options, or find another service here.
If you do go in person, know that it doesn’t come risk-free. If you can, check for outdoor offerings during less busy times. Be sure to wear a mask and avoid shaking hands and partaking in any communal rituals.
You can have a small gathering depending on the vaccination status of attendees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines earlier this year on what is relatively safe to do once you’re fully vaccinated (which means you’re two weeks out from your second Moderna or Pfizer shot, or two weeks out from your Johnson & Johnson shot). Those who are fully vaccinated can see other fully vaccinated individuals safely, and they can even gather without masks.
Fully vaccinated people can also see unvaccinated individuals from another household indoors without masks. (So grandparents, you can feel free to hug your grandkids for the holiday this weekend.)
That said, people who are unvaccinated or in the process of becoming fully vaccinated should remain cautious overall. If you’re in this group and at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, it’s best to stay home.
Outdoor egg hunts are generally OK with the right precautions.
Gathering in small groups outdoors is safer than being inside. Hosting an outdoor Easter egg hunt with a few people in your bubble, or with those who are vaccinated, is lower risk compared to other holiday activities that may take place indoors. (Just keep in mind that no activity is completely risk-free, especially if you’re not vaccinated yet.)
It’s best to follow the CDC’s recommendations outlined above for outdoor activities if you’re going to be in close proximity to unvaccinated individuals (keep in mind that this means kids, too ― there’s still some time before vaccines are approved for those under 16). May the best egg hunter win.
The Easter Bunny can still visit.*
Just like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny probably has magical powers that transcend pandemics. Lucky.
*Note: There are exceptions. If the Easter Bunny is a human who is visiting loved ones at a small gathering, make sure the family bunny is wearing a face mask and taking all the proper COVID-19 precautions outlined above. It’s also probably best to skip any public Easter Bunny visits — like at the mall — this year.
Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but guidance can change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.