File Photo – Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike. | Photo: Colin Boyle/My Block, My Hood, My City.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued new guidance for the upcoming holiday season, urging travelers to delay travel until fully vaccinated or to get tested for COVID-19 if unvaccinated.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said their updated guidance is to “help people celebrate more safely as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Last year, many people held off getting together with family and friends during the holiday season due to the pandemic,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

“This year, we have a safe and effective vaccine to help protect against severe illness due to COVID-19 that will allow friends and families to more safely celebrate together. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your friends and family, and your community, but there are other actions you can take to celebrate more safely,” Ezike said.

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IDPH said they recommend people delay travel until fully vaccinated or wait until they get their booster shot if eligible.

“If you’re not fully vaccinated, test 1-3 days before and 3-5 days after traveling. Travel during off-peak times to avoid crowds and drive a private vehicle to reduce exposure to COVID-19,” the guidance said.

Those using public transportation are recommended to try to travel during non-peak times.

“Keep indoor gatherings small. Arrange seating and other areas to allow for physical distance. Increase air flow by opening windows and/or doors,” the guidance said.

“Avoid having people congregate, such as in the kitchen or at the buffet. Clean and sanitize the kitchen, bathrooms, and other areas used by guests,” the guidance added.

People who are sick with fever, cough or other symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should not travel or gather for holiday events during that time, the IDPH said.