Wayne County residents have been urged to keep their New Year’s celebrations small, only gathering with those in their household, to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Christine Stinson, executive director of Wayne County Health Department, noted that under orange-level guidelines, no gatherings are to have more than 50 people.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoes concern about 2021 celebrations, saying physical distancing and masks are needed, indoors and outdoors when around those not in your household.

For those who choose to gather despite health recommendations, indoor spaces should be avoided as much as possible, especially those that aren’t ventilated well. The volume of background music should be kept low so guests don’t need to shout. Shouting or singing can help spread the virus more than talking.

In cold weather, masks should be worn under scarves, ski masks or balaclavas, and spare masks should be carried in case they become wet from moisture in one’s breath or from snow or rain.

The CDC offers these ideas for alternative New Year’s activities:

Have virtual celebrations with loved ones
• Attend a virtual concert or performance.
• Plan a virtual countdown to midnight with friends.
• Enjoy a virtual dinner or dessert with friends and family.
Plan a New Year’s party for the people you live with
• Decorate, play music, and have a dance party with the people you live with.
• Have a pajama party and watch your favorite movies or play games.
• Plan a special meal or dessert with your family.
Reach out to family, friends, and neighbors
• Call, text, or leave a voicemail for family, friends, and neighbors wishing them a happy new year.
• Call friends and family to count down to the new year together.
• Plan a neighborhood countdown to midnight. People who live with each other can stand in front of their house and cheer together at midnight.

Other ideas
• Watch a livestreamed firework display, concert, First Night event, or other New Year’s programming from your home, such as the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop. Virtual events are happening across the United States.
• Take care of yourself and do something you enjoy, such as reading a book or taking a walk.
• Pick up a special meal from a local restaurant to share with your household.
• Plan an outdoor activity with people you live with such as a hike or sledding.
• Set new year resolutions. Find out if your hometown is sponsoring a special social media event and share your resolutions.

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Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.