How safe is an in-person seder?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Itzhak Brook

Passover creates challenges for those who are looking forward to celebrate the seder in person with friends and family. The availability of vaccines against the coronavirus has made it easier to resume the tradition of in-person seder, although the risk of acquiring the infection is still high in some situations.

Celebrating the seder in close settings can be risky because of the difficulty of maintaining social distance, and lack of adequate ventilation. Mask wearing is impractical while eating and drinking.

The Centers for Disease Control’s Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated provides useful guidelines that can help you plan a safe seder and avoid risky scenarios that would allow the coronavirus to spread (

For the purposes of the CDC’s recommendations, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they receive the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or more than two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson/Janssen ).

Interpretation of the CDC recommendations for fully vaccinated people at a
seder are:

It is permissible for fully vaccinated people to celebrate the seder indoors with other fully vaccinated people or unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease without wearing masks or physical distancing.

Wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and adhering to other prevention measures are required when celebrating the seder with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.

Wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and practicing other prevention measures are required when celebrating with unvaccinated people from multiple households.

Avoid a medium or large seder.

Unvaccinated individuals from different households should refrain from celebrating at an in-person seder.

Although the available vaccines are helpful in curbing the spread of COVID-19, their efficacy against the variants of the virus is unknown. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. It is therefore prudent to continue to maintain vigilance during the upcoming holiday.

Itzhak Brook, M.D., is adjunct professor of pediatric medicine at Georgetown University.

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