Photo courtesy Guru Nanak Mission Gurdwara – Oakland, New Jersey
March 22, 2021 — More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sikh Coalition continues to provide resources to sangats across the country. With Vaisakhi coming up amidst both increasing vaccinations and developing variants of the virus, it is critically important to stay aware of Centers for Disease Control (CDC), national, state, and local public health guidance.
In general, the CDC continues to recommend against medium- and large-sized gatherings. In their guidance for Personal and Social Activities, CDC officials advise the hosts of gatherings to:
- Remind guests to stay home if they are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 in the previous two weeks;
- Host gatherings outdoors wherever possible;
- Arrange tables and chairs to allow for physical distancing, keeping different households six feet apart from one another;
- Encourage attendees to minimize gestures that promote close contact between guests (e.g. wave and verbally greet one another rather than shaking hands, doing elbow bumps, or giving hugs);
- Ask all attendees to wear masks and provide masks for free;
- Encourage attendees to wash their hands, especially before and after eating or serving food;
- Limit the number of attendees involved in food preparation and serving; and
- Clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces.
In accordance with these guidelines, those responsible for gurdwara programming should continue to keep safety protocols in place and enforce them. Offering langar-to-go, distanced seating arrangements, and online programming are some of the ways sangats can continue to engage safely at the gurdwara. It is also important that gurdwara leadership follows all state, city, and county guidelines as they relate to sangat size and indoor occupancy.
Earlier this month, the CDC also released guidance for fully vaccinated people; you can view our summary in both English and Punjabi. Per this guidance, it is critically important to remember that fully vaccinated people could still transmit COVID-19 to unvaccinated people. Unvaccinated sangat members who are aged 65 and older and/or who have medical conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 should strongly consider not attending gatherings. Note that, in addition to recommending against medium- and large-sized gatherings, the CDC also still advises against nonessential travel.
As we said last year, Vaisakhi reminds us to stand up for others; by continuing to socially and physically distance ourselves from one another, we are helping to do just that. One year into the pandemic, continuing to abide by restrictive public health guidance is difficult for everyone; however, the next few months are critical as more sangat members get vaccinated, and each of us must continue to make the best choices for the health and safety of all. You can always consider joining your gurdwara (or another gurdwara) virtually for a Vaisakhi diwaan, taking the time to learn something new about Sikh history with the Sikh Research Institute’s resources, revisiting a sakhi that inspires you, or simply spending time with your family to create a Vaisakhi-inspired activity at home.
For all of the Sikh Coalition’s COVID-19 resources–on topics from public health to federal benefits and employee rights to educational content–click here. For our vaccine safety and availability resources, developed in partnership with the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association, the Sikh Family Center, and the Jakara Movement, click here.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.