COVID-19 – Holidays 2020
Thanksgiving is a time when a lot of families and friends travel to see each other, have large dinners, attend parades, watch or play sports, and celebrate together. Many of the activities associated with a traditional Thanksgiving celebration will increase your chances of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home and celebrating safely is the best way to stay healthy, but if you choose to celebrate with others and/or travel please take the time to get informed on the risks. Anyone who is sick should not participate in the activities.
These activities allow you and your family to celebrate safely:
- Having a small dinner with people who live in your household.
- Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, (especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19), and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
- Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
- Holiday shopping online rather than in person.
- Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.
- Use non-contact forms of greeting instead of handshakes / hugs.
Use caution when engaging in these activities and remember to take preventative measures:
- Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community. Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.
- Have a shorter event, rather than having activities all day or over multiple days.
- Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is required, and people are able to maintain physical distancing.
- Participating in small outdoor events or activities with safety precautions in place including physical distancing and masking.
Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Going shopping in crowded stores.
- Participating in or being a spectator at crowded events or activities such as parades.
- Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household.
- Using alcohol or drugs which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors.
Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved.
Use information from the following webpages to decide whether to go on holiday travel:
- Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Know Your Travel Risk
- Know When to Delay Your Travel to Avoid Spreading COVID-19
If you decide to travel, follow these safety measures during your trip to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
- Be aware of COVID-19 rates in the areas you plan to travel.
- Use private transportation whenever possible.
- Limit stops during travel.
- Avoid eating in indoor restaurant spaces – your vehicle or outdoor spaces are safer
- Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public places.
- Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Each family will need to decide how much risk they are willing to take when making holiday plans. By looking into the current situation in your community and the community you might be considering travel to you can start evaluating the risk involved and what steps you can take to reduce that risk. You should also consider the health and safety of any family members who have a higher risk for serious illness.
When having this conversation with your family remember to approach others with kindness and empathy. Be transparent about your decision and the reasons that led you to them, and don’t be afraid to address any concerns you may have. Repeat these steps and have frequent conversations with your family about your plans and the expectations that come with any family gathering this holiday season.
Keep a record of everyone who attended your gathering, in case this is needed for contact tracing.
Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs.
- Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving, and eating food. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
- Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
- Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
- If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
- Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
- Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
- If you choose to use any items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
- Look for healthy food and beverage options, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low or no-calorie beverages, at holiday gatherings to help maintain good health.
- Keep your friends and family safe from foodborne illnesses by following food safety tips.