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ECDOH warns of risks associated with holiday celebrations, spring break travel

BNIA in September during the pandemic
Posted at 11:54 AM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 11:54:06-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) has issued a warning to residents of the COVID-19 risks associated with holiday celebrations and spring break travel.

ECDOH as offered the following guidance:

Religious Gatherings
ECDOH strongly encourages faith leaders and religious facility managers to review safety plans and operations, along with NY Forward Religious Services guidance, in advance of services this weekend. Virtual or live-streamed religious gatherings, though not ideal, are the safest way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For in-person gatherings, faith leaders should strongly encourage face mask use for all attendees, follow NY guidance for cleaning and social distancing, and consider outdoor services.

Family Celebrations
For family celebrations, limiting gathering size is one strategy to reduce COVID-19 risks. If unvaccinated people or children are present, face masks should be worn. Despite the changing Western New York weather, ECDOH recommends outdoor activities and meals, as well as disposable plates and utensils. And as with all activities, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who feels ill should stay home.

Spring Break Travel
ECDOH has fielded questions from businesses, school leaders and the general public about travel plans for spring break or other travel out of state. After April 1, 2021, New York State will no longer require individuals returning to New York from certain domestic travel to quarantine, or to “test out” of quarantine. However, Erie County is experiencing a high rate of COVID-19 transmission, as are other areas of the country. Air travel and travel in states that do not require the use of masks will put travelers at risk for COVID-19 exposure; and traveling Erie County residents may put others at risk of exposure. Quarantine requirements for international travelers remain in effect.

Travelers returning to Erie County should consider staying home when possible, and avoid close contact with older adults, individuals with chronic medical conditions, and unvaccinated people including children, for 10 days past their return from travel. Diagnostic testing is also recommended, 5-7 days past the last date of exposure or travel.

Updated New York State Travel Advisory guidance includes:

  • Quarantine and testing are no longer required for asymptomatic domestic travelers as of April 1, 2021.
  • Quarantine, consistent with the CDC recommendations for international travel, is still recommended for domestic travelers who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from laboratory confirmed COVID-19 during the previous 3 months.
  • Restrictions on international travel are established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • NYS Travel Form must continue to be filled out by all travelers.

The CDC released updated travel guidance Friday, stating fully-vaccinated Americans can resume travel with low risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. You can find more information here.