Many families are reconsidering holiday traditions due to coronavirus safety concerns. For instance, is Christmas tree shopping safe this year, or should you skip the Tannenbaum altogether?
"If you or your family are at high risk, it would be better to stay on the conservative side and avoid activities where you might contract COVID-19," Dr. Nate Favini, M.D., tells Romper in an email. "I also recommend assessing the rates of transmission in your area. If you’re at average risk for a severe case of COVID-19 and the rate of transmission is low in your area, it is safe for you to go shopping for a Christmas tree this year." Taking a family trip to the tree farm may need to wait for another time, however. "If possible, send one person to get the Christmas tree this year — my recommendation is always to limit exposure as much as possible," family physician Dr. Beth Oller, M.D., tells Romper in an email. The family back home can still help choose the tree over a video chat or text message pics.
For the most part, handling the Christmas tree itself is not the biggest health concern. "There is not a strong risk of getting coronavirus from handling a Christmas tree. We know that surface transmission is not a major driver of infection, especially if you wash your hands after bringing in/decorating the tree and consciously prevent yourself from touching your face," says Dr. Oller. Your fellow tree shoppers, however, may present cause for concern. "When you’re shopping for a Christmas tree, I wouldn’t be worried about COVID-19 transmission through touching the surface of the tree, I would be more concerned about the people around you and whether they’re masked and maintaining social distance," says Dr. Favini.
With that in mind, there are some steps you can take to make Christmas tree shopping a little safer this year. "I would recommend visiting a tree farm that is outdoors where you can maintain social distance and where other people are wearing masks as well," says Dr. Favini, who also stresses the importance a wearing a mask to contain your own respiratory droplets. Sanitizing or washing your hands after touching anything in public is also a good way to maintain hygiene, Dr. Oller explains.
Like the rest of your holiday shopping this year getting a tree means following the general coronavirus safety guidelines that are more or less second nature at this point. Although COVID-19 will change some holiday traditions this year, it's still possible to enjoy the gorgeous sight of a Christmas tree with all the holiday trimmings in your home.
Dr. Beth Oller, M.D., practicing family physician in Stockton, KS