Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

December 24, 2020
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


Limit your time indoors with people not in your household

New City, NY, - Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert reminds residents that COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Rockland County and neighboring communities. It is important to remain cautious and follow recommended public health measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season.

Small, indoor gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households have become a major source of spread. Through COVID-19 investigations in Rockland County, it has been identified that indoor gatherings, with limited airflow, for longer periods of time, contribute to the spread of COVID-19 locally due to shared, enclosed air space. Consider limiting the amount of time you spend with others indoors at any gatherings or celebrations.

It is still very important to wear a face mask when indoors and around other people who do not live with you. It is crucial to stay at least 6 feet away from others and wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking. If you gather with others this holiday season, be cautious and safe by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and limiting the amount of time together indoors.

Your household is considered anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit (such as your house or apartment). This can include family members as well as roommates or people who are unrelated to you. Students and young people returning home from school for the holidays should also be considered part of a different household.

"To keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season, residents should stay home and celebrate with people who live in their household. Avoid inviting family and friends to your home as the disease can easily spread from person-to-person. Alternative ways to observe the holiday, such as hosting a virtual celebration, are the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19," said Dr. Ruppert.

The New York State (NYS) Governor issued restrictions that indoor and outdoor social gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than ten people. Traveling also increases one's potential to be exposed to COVID-19 and possibly spreading it to others. Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses the lowest risk for the spread of COVID-19.

To make the holiday season safer, follow these Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 holiday safety tips:

  • Wear a well-fitting mask with two or more layers. Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from people who do not live with you. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu. Keeping 6 feet (about two arm lengths) from others is especially vital for people at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Keep your hands clean. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Consider holiday activities that can keep you and your family safe:

  • Host a virtual meal with friends and family who do not live with you.
  • Play games such as a scavenger hunt, watch a special movie, or make a craft with people in your household.
  • Go on a family walk or bike ride to get some fresh air and a great way to get some physical activity before your holiday meal.

Here are some additional safety measures to take if you plan to attend or host a holiday gathering with friends or family outside your household:

Attending a Gathering

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask and safely store it while eating and drinking.
  • Avoid going in and out of the kitchen where food is being prepared or handled.
  • Use single-use options for condiments and food containers, plates, and utensils.
  • If you are traveling, checking travel restrictions, get your flu shot, wear a mask, social distance, and wash hands often in public places.

Hosting a Gathering

  • Plan for the meal to be outdoors or open windows if dining indoors.
  • Limit the number of guests to no more than ten people as per NYS rules.
  • Talk with guests about expectations for celebrating together beforehand.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • Have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

For more holiday safety tips, visit For COVID-19 information, local resources, or questions, call the Rockland County COVID-19 Hotline at (845) 238-1956, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, email, or visit the county's COVID-19 webpage at