With provincial and federal governments urging Canadians to stay away from those outside their households due to COVID-19, it can feel like nothing about this holiday is going to be normal.
But, according to Jason Tetro the host of the Super Awesome Science Show on Curiouscast, if you take some simple precautions, your gifts, cards and baking can be exchanged safely.
Possibly the most time-honoured tradition of the holiday season is the exchanging of gifts between loved ones. But is it safe to exchange those gifts this year? Yes, says Tetro, as long as you practice good hygiene while doing so.
“Exchanging presents is the same as takeout food when you think about it,” he said. “So as long as you are putting it into a really nice package and there’s minimal touching going on, and then you’re handing that over to somebody else and then they’re picking it up and everybody’s washing their hands appropriately, there’s no problem.“
Another option is to wrap and exchange gifts a few days before your holiday. If gifts sit for three days, the virus will die, Tetro said.
While Tetro says sunlight is the best disinfectant, he said there’s no reason to worry about the virus living longer on the gift itself once it’s wrapped.
A little more caution needs to be taken when it comes to sending holiday cards.
While transmission is very unlikely for the person licking and then sending the card, it could put the person receiving it in danger if the sender has COVID-19. Because of the moisture on the envelope, it will take longer for the virus to die off.
“When you receive your card, it might just be a better idea to open it from the side or even open it from the top and leave whatever that licked area is untouched,” he said. “The risk is going to be incredibly small, but if you want to be safer than worried, then that’s the best way to approach it.”
While Tetro says the likelihood of transmission is small, he said it does increase if you’re not putting your cards through the mail and are delivering them shortly after they’ve been licked.
To be safe, he recommends using a sponge to moisten the glue or just seal the envelope with a glue stick when sealing any envelope, not just during a pandemic.
There’s also no reason to skip holiday baking this year, Tetro said. But, like everything else these days, some steps should be taken you may not normally do.
When it comes to baked goods, the heat of the baking will kill off any viruses. But, to avoid any possible transmission once the baking is done, Tetro suggests taking the baked good and putting it into a sealed container while its still warm using a spatula, not your hands.
“Now, as you’ve done that, we call this sort of an aseptic technique, it’s going to maintain not only the flavour, but also it’s going to maintain the safety,” he said.
It’s also important that anyone who is sick — whether it be COVID-19, the flu or a cold — doesn’t handle the baking.
“If they start touching all of these things after they’ve touched their noses and their mouths, there’s going to be a likelihood that the virus is going to be there and it’s going to stick around there, because unless you’ve made very, very dry gingersnap cookies, there’s going to be moisture.”
The main thing to remember, Tetro said, is if you maintain proper health safety and keep anyone with any kind of symptoms away from the cookies, your baked goods should be safe.