Special to the Gazette
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) released guidance on celebrating Thanksgiving safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, urging residents to stay home and spend the day with people in their own household. Health officials have advised that traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19.
“Thanksgiving is normally a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. We know these aren’t normal times, so we’re asking everyone to take the necessary steps to prevent the further transmission of COVID-19 as we enter a critical period in this pandemic,” said Mayor Walsh. “We can keep the spirit of thankfulness alive without putting yourself and your loved ones at risk. As always, I want to thank Bostonians for their cooperation during this difficult year.”
Residents who may have COVID-19, are not feeling well, or have been exposed to the virus should stay home and not host or participate in any in-person gatherings. Residents who are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions, should also not take part in any in-person gatherings.
If you are planning on hosting or attending a Thanksgiving gathering:
• Keep it small and limit the number of guests. In Boston, indoor gatherings should be 10 people or less.
• Ask guests to wear a mask unless eating and drinking, and stay 6 feet apart when possible.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
• Ask guests to avoid going in and out of areas where food is being prepared and handled, like the kitchen.
• Do not share food, drink, or any utensils.
• Have guests bring their own food and drink.
• Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, potlucks, or drink stations.
• If sharing food, have one person (wearing a face mask and gloves) serve food and use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
• Consider small seating table arrangements in multiple rooms with plenty of spacing, instead of a large family table.
• Improve ventilation by opening windows and doors.
• For 14 days before and after holiday gatherings, minimize contact with other people, and leave home only for essential services like going to work, buying groceries, and appointments with doctors.
• If you are planning to travel for Thanksgiving:
• Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel:
• Know the higher-risk states and what the Massachusetts travel orders mean for when you return home
All visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, are required to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts.
• Wear a face covering at all times in public
• Stay 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household
• Get a flu shot before traveling, if you have not already
• Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer
• Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth
BPHC health officials encourage families to find safer, alternative or virtual ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. The safest celebrations involve people from your household, are outdoors, and allow for social distancing and other safety measures.
Lower risk activities:
• Having a small Thanksgiving dinner with only people who live in your household.
• Host a virtual dinner with extended family and friends. Show off your favorite dishes and share your favorite recipes.
• Host a Thanksgiving meal outdoors, if possible.
• Go for a walk with extended family members, while wearing a mask and staying 6 feet apart.
• Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
• Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving. Use contactless services, like curbside pick-up or shop in open air markets and stay 6 feet away from others.
Higher risk activities:
• Attending or hosting indoor gatherings with people from outside your home.
• Sharing food and drinks.
• Shaking hands and hugging. Wave and verbally greet others instead.
• Singing, dancing, and shouting. These activities increase your chances of catching COVID-19 through the air.
Read more on the Thanksgiving guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information on Boston’s response to COVID-19, please visit boston.gov/coronavirus.