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COVID Safe festive gatherings with family and friends

This holiday season take a few moments for yourself or enjoy time with others for a happier and more resilient you.

No matter who you are, where you live or how you’re feeling it’s important to reconnect, celebrate with friends and family or get back to the activities you used to enjoy.

To help make your event COVID safe and enjoyable, follow the tips below when arranging or attending a gathering.

Tips for COVID Safe gatherings

  • Check the Movement and Gatherings direction to determine the maximum number people allowed at your gathering or get-together.
  • Get outside – where possible, hold your gathering or get- together outdoors or in a well-ventilated area (remember to be sun-smart).
  • Spread out – maintain at least 1.5m between household groups.
  • Hand hygiene – remind people to wash hands regularly or if handwashing facilities are not available, bring hand sanitiser.
  • Respiratory hygiene – remember to sneeze or cough into your arm or a tissue (then put the tissue in the bin).
  • Cleaning – wipe down frequently touched areas and surfaces with detergent or disinfectant regularly.
  • Food and snacks – serve food and snacks on individual plates – avoid sharing utensils.
  • Attending festive events and displays – keep 1.5m from other households, ensure you register your contact information, follow the directions of event organisers.
  • Setting up a festive display in your home/garden – encourage people to practise physical distancing when visiting; discourage physical interaction (for example touching) to limit cleaning requirements; provide hand sanitiser; if offering snacks or treats, ensure they are individually wrapped.
  • If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in Queensland, further restrictions may be put in place that limits gatherings or events and activities. You can find the current requirements in the Public Health Directions.

Further information

You can find COVID-19 health advice on the Queensland Government website, including the current status in Queensland and how to protect yourself and others.

If you are seeking clarification on a Public Health Direction or have any questions, please call 134 COVID (134 268).

Visit Unite against COVID-19 for information about the Queensland Government response, including current requirements for social distancing, border closures and business restrictions.

Questions and answers

Can I take the kids to see Santa?

Yes, you can still visit and take photos with Santa at shopping centres, however, there will be changes this year. Santa set layouts will allow for physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each family/group and Santa, and there will be no physical contact between Santa and customers (children will not be able to sit on Santa’s knee). You will need to book your Santa visit in advance to minimise crowds and waiting lines. You can check other changes when you book your visit.

Can I take group photos or selfies?

Yes, Group photos are allowed in informal settings, such as with your family and friends, at ceremonies or school events, and end of year functions.

Standing together to take a photo is considered low risk, particularly because it is for a very short period of time. These are generally people you know and encounter often, such as school friends, family and work colleagues.

To keep yourself and others as safe as possible, unnecessary physical contact is not encouraged – this means continuing to avoid kissing, hugging and shaking hands, particularly with people outside of your family.

Photos for commercial arrangements, such as Santa photos in shopping centres and wedding photos, will continue to be a part of a venue’s COVID Safe plan.

Can I host a Christmas party or gathering?

Yes, you can celebrate the festive season with your friends, family and co-workers. Here are some tips to make your gathering safe:

  • Check the Queensland Health website to determine the maximum number of people allowed at your gathering or get-together.
  • Where possible, hold your get-together outdoors or in a well-ventilated area (remember to be sun-smart).
  • Remind people to wash hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Remember to sneeze or cough into your arm or a tissue (then put the tissue in the bin straight away and immediately wash your hands).
  • Wipe down frequently touched areas and surfaces with detergent or disinfectant regularly.
  • Serve food and snacks on individual plates and avoid sharing utensils and glasses.
  • Remind your guests to stay at home on the day if they are sick – you could organise for a plate of food to be dropped off to them or a video connection so they virtually join in on the festivities.

Can I go to a Christmas party at a bar or restaurant?

Yes. Many bars and restaurants are open and will be encouraging Christmas parties and festivities. Food and entertainment businesses (bars, restaurants, cafes, casinos, bowls clubs etc.) must have a COVID Safe plan and follow strict protocols to keep staff and guests safe, like regular cleaning, limiting capacity to allow physical distancing and providing hand sanitiser.

Here are some tips to look after your health while at events:

  • Regularly wash or sanitise your hands, especially before and after eating. Where possible, you should carry hand sanitiser.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible – this is how some viruses enter the body.
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick (even with mild symptoms) and get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or, use a tissue and make sure you throw it in the bin straight away and immediately wash or sanitise your hands.
  • Avoid hugging, kissing or shaking hands with people where possible, particularly vulnerable people and their carers, and try to keep two big steps away from others as much as possible.

How do I stay safe while Christmas shopping?

In the lead up to Christmas, shopping centres and retail areas will be busier than usual. Here are some tips to make shopping easier and safer this Christmas:

  • Shop online – where possible, buy things online and have them posted to your house.
  • Plan to go to the shops outside of peak times – to avoid crowds, go to the shops early in the morning, late in the afternoon or on weekdays.
  • Shop early – try and get your shopping done earlier in the year, rather than waiting until the week before Christmas when the shops are the busiest.
  • Instead of going to busy shopping centres, support local businesses and buy gifts at smaller retailers in your community.
  • If you have to go to the shops at a busy time, wear a face mask if you can’t keep a physical distance of 1.5 metres – that’s two big steps – from other shoppers and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Can my relatives visit from another state?

Your relatives and friends can travel from another state to visit and stay with you without having to quarantine, unless they have been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot in the previous 14 days. All visitors have to complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass before they enter Queensland which includes agreeing to get tested for COVID-19 if they develop symptoms within 14 days of arriving in the state.

They will need to quarantine when they enter Queensland if they have:

  • been overseas in the last 14 days
  • had known contact with someone who has COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days (and the COVID-19 hotspot is still a COVID-19 hotspot at the time you enter Queensland)
  • have COVID-19 or have had COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • had COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or fatigue) in the last 14 days and cannot provide a negative test result.

Here are some tips to keep yourself and visitors safe during their stay:

  • Remind people to wash their hands regularly with running water and soap for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Remember to cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or, use a tissue and make sure you throw it in the bin straight away and immediately wash or sanitise your hands
  • Wipe down frequently touched areas and surfaces with detergent or disinfectant regularly.
  • Serve food and snacks on individual plates and avoid sharing utensils and glasses.
  • Remind your guests to stay at home or seek alternate accommodation if they are sick.

Can I visit relatives overseas or can overseas relatives travel to visit me?

No. At this time, there is a ban on all overseas travel, unless you are granted an exemption by the Federal Government to exit or enter Australia.

Australia has strict border measures in place to protect the health of our communities. People cannot come into Australia unless they are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or in an exempt category. Read more about returning to Australia.

Australia has a safe travel zone with New Zealand which allows travel between the two countries without the need to quarantine in some circumstance.

Can I travel over the festive period?

Yes, you can travel throughout Queensland and to certain parts of Australia without having to quarantine when you return to our state. If you are a Queensland resident who has been to a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days you must quarantine for 14 days at your own expense when returning to Queensland. Other restrictions and limitations do apply to travel so make sure you stay up to date with the latest advice.

We recommend checking on each state’s COVID-19 restrictions when planning your holiday or trip.

Can I set up a festive display in my home/garden?

Yes. If people are visiting your display, you should encourage them to keep 1.5 metres apart (that’s two big steps), discourage people from touching your display, provide hand sanitiser, and if offering snacks or treats, make sure they are individually wrapped.

Should we be sharing food at parties?

Eating and sharing food is often a central part of Christmas celebrations but right now, it’s best not to use share plates or food platters. Instead, serve food on to your own plate using clean utensils. This lowers the risk of spreading germs by touching food that others will be eating. It’s also safest not to share drinks.

When preparing food for yourself or others, good hygiene is key to limiting the spread of germs. Wash your hands with soap and water before touching or preparing food, and regularly throughout the cooking process and after eating.

What about New Year’s Eve? Can I kiss a stranger at midnight?

Viruses spreads through infected droplets from the mouth by coughing, sneezing, laughing, singing, or talking. You can also get the virus on your hands by touching contaminated surfaces and then transferring it to your mouth, nose or eyes when you touch your face or eat. Viruses thrive on close contact and can be transmitted though kissing, hugging or just being close in an enclosed space. Given this, pashing a stranger at the pub at midnight is not advisable at this time.

Will there be New Year’s Eve fireworks displays?

Some large-scale fireworks displays, such local council New Year’s Eve fireworks, may not go ahead this year. New Year’s Eve fireworks typically draw large crowds which means that people would not be able to maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres (two big steps) from others. Check with your local council or community group to see if fireworks are happening in your area.

Here are some tips on how to enjoy New Year’s Eve without the fireworks:

  • Book a table at a local café, restaurant or bar to celebrate.
  • Enjoy a picnic or gather with friends in one of the council parks in your area.
  • Host a gathering at your home or your local barbeque area.
  • See what’s happening in your community – local councils and community groups may be organising smaller-scale events.
  • Ring in the New Year with your friends and family over video call if you can’t be together in person.

Here are some tips to look after your health while celebrating the New Year:

  • Regularly wash or sanitise your hands, especially before and after eating. Where possible, you should carry hand sanitiser.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible – this is how some viruses enter the body.
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick (even with mild symptoms) and get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or, use a tissue and make sure you throw it in the bin straight away and immediately wash or sanitise your hands.
  • Avoid hugging, kissing or shaking hands with people where possible, especially vulnerable people and their carers, and try to keep two big steps away from others as much as possible.

Can I visit an older person at their house?

The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases as you get older. If you are visiting an older person, do it in a careful and considered way. For example, visit in smaller groups, and avoid meeting in shopping centres and other public places during peak periods when crowds are bigger.

Also, try to stay 1.5 metres away from them – that’s two big steps. While Christmas is usually a time full of affection, try not to hug, kiss or shake hands with others. And if you're sick, stay home and if you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.

Think about doing things differently this Christmas to protect those who are more vulnerable to the virus by organising a phone or video chat instead of a face-to-face catch up.

Can I visit someone in an aged care facility?

Yes, you can visit older relatives or friends in an aged care facility, but you won’t be able to visit if you are:

  • unwell
  • have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • have had contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • have travelled to a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days
  • have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for the result
  • have COVID-19 symptoms – a fever (37.5 degrees or more), cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or fatigue.

Remember to check visitor conditions with the facility before visiting as they may be different at each facility.

While visiting others, try staying 1.5 metres away from them – that’s two big steps. While Christmas is usually a time full of affection, try not to hug, kiss or shake hands with others right now. Also, if you’re sick, stay home and if you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.

Can I visit a loved one in hospital?

Yes. You can visit a patient in hospital but there are some restrictions, depending on what area of the hospital the person is in. Remember to check visitor conditions with the facility before visiting as they may be different at each facility.

You won’t be able to visit a patient in hospital if you have:

  • been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • been asked to self-quarantine
  • had contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting to receive the results
  • COVID-19 symptoms of fever (37.5 degrees or more), cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or fatigue.

Each hospital, and even wards within hospitals, can make decisions around visiting that are in the best interest of the patient. These decisions are based on clinical risk and may change depending on the situation at the time. Please respect each hospital’s visitor rules.

If you're sick, stay home. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.

What will happen to events and activities if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in Queensland?

If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in Queensland, restrictions may be put in place that limit gatherings or events and activities either state-wide or within identified communities. Events or activities may be cancelled at short notice.