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The holidays may determine how severe future restrictions will be.

With Thanksgiving approaching in two weeks, Washington state health officials have begun reminding citizens that the COVID-19 pandemic is still surging, and that holiday celebrations will need to be kept measured in order to ensure everyone’s safety. The holiday season may serve as a litmus test of sorts that will determine how seriously the populace is taking COVID-19 mandates, and whether stricter measures will be required.

According to the Washington Department of Health, COVID cases in the state are on the rise among all age groups, with the primary cause suspected to be large social gatherings. To this end, officials are warning Washington citizens not to invite family members over to the holidays, and opt instead for smaller celebrations limited to those they are in regular close contact with. Anyone who does not live with you should only join the festivities remotely.

“We’re at the point where if we cannot change the current trajectory of disease by changing our behaviors, we’ll need to take actions that will hurt our economy, and no one wants to do that again,” Kathy Lofy, the state health officer for the Washington Department of Health, said.

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The Department has said that if your family insists on gathering in person, then the celebration should at least be held outdoors, along with masks and social distancing. Even in this case, the Department is advising that no more than 5 guests should be allowed in. A two-week quarantine prior to the celebration date may also be prudent.

The Department is constantly adjusting its plans to combat the pandemic in Washington state, and has reminded citizens to follow their mandates as closely as possible, not just for the sake of their health, but because if the pandemic worsens, stricter measures will be necessitated.