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Give thanks safely: Massachusetts' COVID-19 Thanksgiving guidelines

Posted by AllWays Health Partners blog team on November 24, 2020

This year, our Thanksgiving celebrations are going to look a little different. While it may be difficult to skip certain traditions or limit our guest lists, you can keep your family, friends, and community safe by sticking to these holiday celebration guidelines from Mass.gov and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


Please note: As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise, public health recommendations continue to evolve and change. We recommend frequently checking state guidelines from Mass.gov and federal guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the latest information around COVID-19 safety.

How to keep your celebrations low-risk

For the safest possible Thanksgiving dinner, you should only celebrate with members of your household. This type of celebration may be different from past years, but it is an important step in reducing the spread of COVID-19 as the U.S. faces record-high hospitalization numbers.

Limiting your gathering doesn't mean you can't visit with extended family and friends, either. A virtual holiday call or dinner, hosted over Zoom, FaceTime, or another video platform, can help you share the holiday without risking the health of your loved ones.

If you live nearby your family and friends, you might also consider preparing dishes ahead of time and delivering them as a way of sharing the meal.

Managing risk during holiday gatherings

People who don't live with you and larger groups of people pose a greater chance of spreading COVID-19. These higher risk celebrations should be avoided, especially for older adults and people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

If you still plan on having non-household members over for dinner, it's important to limit the number of guests. Massachusetts mandates that indoor gatherings at private residences are kept to 10 or fewer people. Weather permitting, you might also want to consider hosting the event outdoors.

You should also have a conversation with your guests before the event to talk about the precautions you plan to take. By setting expectations early on, you can help your guests follow appropriate safety measures like those listed below.

The following guidelines from Mass.gov can help decrease the risk of contracting or spreading illness during Thanksgiving dinner:
  • Wear your mask and watch your distance at all times.
  • Do not share food, drink, or any utensils.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • Consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations.
  • Seat people with plenty of space from one another while dining.
  • Consider small seating table arrangements in multiple rooms with plenty of spacing, instead of a large family table.
  • If gathering indoors, improve ventilation by opening windows and doors.
  • Read more guidelines on Mass.gov.

By avoiding large gatherings, social distancing, and following the above recommendations, we can all help prevent a renewed surge in cases after the holiday.

Topics: COVID-19, Physical health and wellness

Disclaimer: The content in this blog post represents the clinical opinions of the providers at AllWays Health Partners and is based on the most currently available clinical and governmental guidance.

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