BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston Public Health officials have released detailed guidance for residents on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving during the pandemic.
According to the guidance released Wednesday by Mayor Marty Walsh's office and the Boston Public Health Commission, traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends "can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19," so residents are being urged to "stay home and spend Thanksgiving with the people in their own household" this year.
"Thanksgiving is normally a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together," Mayor Walsh said. "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. 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."
The City's guidance says any indoor gatherings that do happen in Boston this Thanksgiving should be limited to ten people or less. It says any guests should wear a mask unless eating and drinking, they should stay six feet apart when possible, and they should avoid going in and out of areas where food is being prepared and handled.
Health officials also advise people to avoid sharing food, drink, or any utensils. Guests can opt to bring their own food and drink, and gatherings should avoid offering any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, potlucks, or drink stations.
If sharing food, the City's guidance says residents should 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."
It also says families should also consider small seating table arrangements in multiple rooms with plenty of spacing, instead of a large family table, and households can 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," the guidance states. "Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others."
If people must travel, health officials say 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.
BPHC health officials encouraged 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," it said.
Residents who want to hold a lower-risk Thanksgiving day at home were also given several points of guidance, including having a small dinner with only people who live in their household. The BPHC said residents can host a virtual dinner with extended family and friends, show off their favorite dishes and share their favorite recipes.
Walsh's office said residents can also host a Thanksgiving meal outdoors, if possible, or go for a walk with extended family members, while wearing a mask and staying six feet apart.
Residents can also prepare traditional family recipes for family and neighbors and deliver them in a way that doesn't involve contact with others, and shop online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving, or use contactless services, like curbside pick-up or shop in open air markets.
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