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Celebrating a Happy & Safe Thanksgiving Holiday: Tips from the Cambridge Public Health Department

caution sign The information on this page may be outdated as it was published 3 years ago.

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, please keep in mind that the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community is to celebrate with the members of your household. If, however you do plan to gather with others outside of your household, please review the current state orders and follow the recommendations below from the Cambridge Public Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on how to slow the spread of COVID-19. Please follow the three most important basic practices:

  • Wear a mask or face covering.
  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds.
  • Limit the size of gatherings 

Link to Tips Flier from the Cambridge Public Health Department including two Healthy Recipes!

“This holiday season, we must all continue to do our part to keep COVID-19 from spreading, including opting out of get-togethers with family and friends outside of our own households,” said Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. “I know I will miss being with my own family this holiday season, but we must continue to prioritize keeping ourselves, our families, and our community safe.”

Important pandemic precautions include:

  • Get a COVID-19 test. Testing is an important way to protect your family, friends, and community. Cambridge offers daily testing by appointment but slots tend to fill up quickly. The State’s “Stop the Spread” testing sites (located in Chelsea, Everett, Revere, and Winthrop) are free and open to all Massachusetts residents. Some sites are walk-in and some are drive through and do not require appointments. Please keep in mind that a negative test result means you most likely did not have COVID-19 at the time that you were tested. However, a false negative result is possible if you have recently been exposed to COVID-19 but the infection hasn’t had time to develop to the point where it can be detected by a test.

  • People with or exposed to COVID-19, or who have COVID-19 symptoms, should stay home. They should NOT attend in-person gatherings.

  • Per Governor Baker’s COVID-19 Order #54 (issued November 2, 2020). Indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. All gatherings (regardless of size or location) must end and disperse by 9:30 p.m.

  • Holiday travel increases chances of getting and spreading the coronavirus. While it is a difficult and personal decision, staying home and avoiding travel is the best way to protect yourself and others.

  • If you do plan to travel, consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in the area you intend to visit. If travelling to another state, review that state’s travel orders as well as Massachusetts’ requirements upon returning.

  • Schedule a flu shot (vaccine). While a flu shot is always recommended, it’s especially important this year. Preventing the spread of flu will limit the need for flu-related medical appointments and hospitalizations, freeing up resources to help people with COVID-19. You can make an appointment for a flu shot with either your healthcare provider or local pharmacy. Learn more at Cambridgema.gov/flu.

  • Indoor gatherings carry more risk than outdoor events. Larger indoor get-togethers are riskier than those with fewer people, and shorter get-togethers are safer than longer ones. You can reduce your risk by limiting indoor gatherings to only people you live with or a small group with whom you are regularly in contact. If guests come over, consider opening windows to improve ventilation, wearing a mask when preparing or serving food, and encouraging everyone to wear masks and practice physical distancing. If you are celebrating with others outside of your household, please remember you should not talk while unmasked. People should take turns eating or drinking so that two people are not simultaneously unmasked. Eating or drinking together is high risk for COVID-19 transmission. More respiratory droplets (potentially containing virus) are emitted when people talk than when they breathe through their mouth or their nose or make open/close jaw movements. For more tips, see Mass.gov/news/thanksgiving-during-covid-19.

  • People at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults and people with underlying medical conditions (e.g., heart conditions, COPD, diabetes), should ideally avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in their household. If they choose to gather, these individuals should opt for
    lower-risk settings.

  • Be creative about preserving some of your holiday traditions. Make your favorite family recipes, do a “no-contact delivery” of homemade treats for local family, friends, and/or neighbors, send gifts and open them together virtually. Decorating your home, participating in religious ceremonies virtually, watching holiday-themed movies at home, sending holiday cards, and hosting a virtual dinner party are other ways to be festive and safe during COVID-19.

  • Remember to be courteous and patient. Many people are feeling tired and stressed from the ongoing pandemic, but we are all in this together and a little kindness can go a long way. 

Avoid These Activities:

  • 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 being infected with COVID-19 through droplets from exhaled air. 

“Gatherings with friends, extended family, and loved ones is incredibly important during holidays. I know firsthand the stress many people are feeling as they realize the COVID-19 pandemic will require us all to rethink our traditional gatherings this year,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “With an uptick in cases, it is more important than ever to follow the key recommendations to wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, practice physical distancing, and to also follow the State’s orders and additional guidance from our local and state health departments. Each of us has a responsibility to take extra precautions and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

"COVID-19 cases have been rising steadily in Cambridge as they have across the country. We now see more evidence that small, casual indoor gatherings are a significant factor in this accelerated increase in reported cases across the Commonwealth," said Claude A. Jacob, Chief Public Health Officer. "Limiting contact to those in your own household during the Thanksgiving holiday is the best way to protect yourself, your broader social network, and our community at this time."

The holiday season can be stressful even without a pandemic. If you are feeling down, share your feelings with a trusted friend or family member. If distress impacts your daily life for several days or weeks, don't wait to talk to a counselor, doctor, or member of your faith community.

Page was posted on 11/19/2020 5:28 PM
Page was last modified on 7/25/2023 12:34 AM
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