The emergence of the spring season typically brings about an endless array of pastel-colored bunnies and eggs to decorate stores, schools, and homes. Unfortunately, fears of continued coronavirus spread have basically shut everything down, which leaves many people wondering if they should cancel Easter plans. Honestly, it's a warranted fear.
Instead of having happy-go-lucky Easter fun together and eating baskets full of Peeps ahead of the holiday, people are hunkering down at home and hoarding toilet paper. But is there an end in sight? Can Easter still be spent with loved ones?
"I do not anticipate that the threat of spreading the coronavirus will decrease by the upcoming religious holidays," Dr. Dean Hart, an expert in microbiology and published author on the transmission of viruses and diseases, tells Romper.
An onslaught of event cancellations on both the national and local levels has already occurred out of an abundance of caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The White House's annual Easter Egg Roll — an event that has celebrated the Easter season for generations — was cancelled on March 16. The event dates back to 1878, but was cancelled in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) current recommendation of social distancing and the White House's recommendation that gatherings be limited to 10 people or less.
"There is a high likelihood that during Easter week, the CDC will still be recommending that gatherings of more than 10 people do not occur," Dr. Scott Krugman, vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, tells Romper. "This could affect church services and other Easter-related activities. If that is the case, large family gatherings, especially multi-generational ones, would not be a good idea either."
The current recommendations from the White House are part of a 15-day plan to slow the spread of coronavirus, released on March 16. This year, Easter falls on April 12 — a little less than two weeks after the plan's 15-day timespan would be over. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if the virus's spread will be mitigated by then.
"We anticipate weeks more until COVID-19 reaches its peak, meaning that we would still only be in the beginning stages of the virus's spread," Hart tells Romper.
If you were planning to travel overseas to see family for Easter, chances are you will have to alter your plans as travel regulations continue to change on an almost day-to-day basis during the pandemic. Even travel within the United States, or within your own state or region, could be impacted by the government recommendations surrounding the coronavirus. Unfortunately, there is nearly no way to speculate what changes will take place with regard to travel before Easter.
"Any gathering with people coming from different areas of the country is risky at this point in time and likely still will be around Easter," Krugman says. So, what precautions should be taken ahead of Easter gatherings for families in light of the nation's new normal during the coronavirus pandemic?
"I would recommend that people stay 6 feet away from one another and observe other social distancing measures in order to steer clear of contaminating each another or your vulnerable loved ones," Hart tells Romper.
Grandparents and other elderly relatives who are at an increased risk for complications from COVID-19 could be exposed to the virus by younger relatives if families choose to gather for Eater, so taking precautions to prevent spread to this population is crucial. "If families do plan on getting together, I would first recommend that anyone over the age of 60 or with a chronic health condition not attend," Krugman tells Romper. "Additionally, if individuals in the family have a known COVID-19 exposure or have any symptoms of a cold, they should not attend."
Additionally, Krugman recommends frequent hand-washing, limiting touching like hugs or kisses, and not sharing food or drinks, though admits these restrictions can be hard for families. Ultimately, as the situation with coronavirus unfolds, you may need to adjust your Easter plans accordingly.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.
Dr. Dean Hart, OD, MA, BS, AAS, FAAO
Scott Krugman, M.D., MS, FAAP, Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore