Well, we all knew it was going to happen. It was just a question of when and today's the day. State officials have released safety guidance for Thanksgiving amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Tuesday that residents should be aware that gatherings are subject to the state's limits on gathering sizes and applicable workplace safety standards.

According to the Mass DPH, the guidance for a safe Turkey Day is as follows:

Any time you’re near people you don’t live with:

  • Wear a mask when not eating or drinking
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Stay at least six feet apart from others
  • Consider if those around you may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions, and take extra precautions
  • If gathering indoors, improve ventilation by opening windows and doors

The Mass DPH considers the following as 'lower risk celebrations':

  • Limit in-person holiday gatherings to only people you live with or limit to a small group of individuals with whom you are regularly in contact.
  • Gatherings with more people pose more risks. As a reminder, gatherings in Massachusetts are subject to gathering size limits.
  • Keep visits short – gatherings that last longer pose more risk than short gatherings.
    •   Host a virtual holiday dinner with extended family or friends, especially if they are at higher risk for illness from COVID-19. Prepare traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.

The Mass DPH considers gatherings with people who do not live in your household to be 'higher risk celebrations':

  • Wear your mask and watch your distance at all times.
  • Do not share food, drink, or any utensils.
  • Encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For 14 days before and after holiday gatherings, minimize  contact with other people, and leave home for essential services like going to work, buying groceries, and appointments with doctors;  OR,
  • Obtain a negative result from a molecular (PCR) SARS-CoV2 test, on a sample obtained within 72 hours of the celebration. Information about where to obtain a test can be found at www.mass.gov/GetTested.
  • 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.

And in all cases, Mass DPH recommends that you:

  • Avoid sharing food and drinks.
  • Avoid shaking hands and hugging. Wave and verbally greet others instead.
  • Avoid singing, dancing, and shouting. These activities increase your chances of catching COVID-19 through the air.
  • Avoid in-person gatherings with people at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults and people with certain medical conditions.

There is much more information to be had, including the state's travel order. Please visit the website at mass.gov for details.

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