Hugging friends is out this festive season, says health boss
"HUGGING friends is out, elbow bumps are in and if you feel unwell, go straight to get a COVID-19 test".
This is the advice from Northern New South Wales Local Health District chief executive, Wayne Jones, for a safe festive season.
He said he understood people were keen to see loved ones who may have been under lockdown.
"But we have to relax within boundaries," he said.
"People need to remember they can have 20 visitors to their home or get together with 30 people in outdoor spaces such as a backyard, courtyard or park.
"Or if you must be indoors open all the doors and windows and choose well-ventilated spaces."
Mr Jones said while it might seem cruel to refuse an embrace form a relation or friend, people should aim to keep the social distancing going while celebrating.
He said social distancing should also be observed over the punch and barbecues.
"Please catch up with family and friends and celebrate what has been an exceptionally challenging year," he said.
"But please don't hug or kiss people you don't live with; the elbow bump is the way to go."
The key to keeping everyone safe and well is to gather outdoors where you can, Mr Jones said.
And if you do feel unwell, skip the party and head straight to get tested, because it's better to miss one party and protect those you love than be selfish and infect those close to you, he said.
"Our COVID-19 testing centres will continue to be open seven says a week, including Christmas Day," Mr Jones said.
"If you have any symptoms get tested n the day you have them, don't wait to see what happens.
"Assume it is COVID-19 until proven otherwise because testing is quick, free and easy."
Mr Jones said it was better to skip a gathering and get a test than spend the holidays in the ICU.