The World Health Organization is telling families gathering for Christmas to wear masks and social distance during Christmas dinners.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the WHO admitted that people attending Christmas dinners wearing masks "may feel awkward," but such practices would "contribute significantly" to saving lives.
The updated guidance from the WHO reads: “Annually across Europe, we see a massive increase in gatherings that bring together people of all ages, including families, religious groups and friends. This brings a significant risk of increased COVID-19 transmission during the upcoming holiday season.”
“Despite some fragile progress, COVID-19 transmission across the European Region remains widespread and intense. There is a high risk of further resurgence in the first weeks and months of 2021, and we will need to work together if we are to succeed in preventing it.”
“Indoor gatherings, even smaller ones, can be especially risky because they bring together groups of people, young and old, from different households, who may not all be adhering to the same infection prevention measures," the WHO stated.
They continued by saying that gatherings for the winter holiday “should be held outside if possible.”
The WHO suggested that local municipalities should “seriously consider” canceling Christmas celebrations.
“Communities across the European Region are weighing whether or not to host religious processions, holiday markets and church celebrations. In countries experiencing widespread community transmission of the virus, postponing or reducing such gatherings should be seriously considered,” stated the WHO.
“Regardless of location, religious services should take place differently this year. They should be held outdoors whenever possible or be limited in size and duration, with physical distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene and mask use, as appropriate.”
The news calls into question when face masks will no longer be mandatory wear for the public in countries battling the coronavirus.
Last Tuesday, the New York Times published an article stating that those who get the vaccine for COVID-19 must still wear face masks for the foreseeable future, suggesting that the vaccine “leaves open the possibility that some vaccinated people get infected without developing symptoms, and could then silently transmit the virus — especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks.”
Lockdowns in many countries have become more stringent during winter as the annual flu season approaches.
The first COVID-19 vaccine is now being rolled out in countries including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.