COVID-19: MDH's guidance for celebrating Thanksgiving during a pandemic

MDH's guidance for celebrating Thanksgiving this year asks people to avoid large gatherings and instead celebrate in small groups or with family.
Author:
Publish date:

Health officials are discouraging large indoor gatherings with friends and family during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday in hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19.  

Gatherings at people's homes are one of the most common ways the virus is spreading in Minnesota, which has health officials reminding people that every time you get together with people outside of your household, your risk for contracting and spreading the novel coronavirus increases, according to holiday celebrations guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Because many traditional holiday activities, like sharing a meal, could help spread the virus, MDH is hoping people choose activities that are considered a lower risk of spreading COVID-19 to others. 

Arguably the most important of the lower-risk activities suggested by the MDH is having dinner with the people you live with, rather than traveling to see family and friends outside your household. Other lower-risk activities include having a virtual dinner with friends and family, shopping online instead of in-person on Black Friday, and preparing your favorite family recipes for family and friends – especially those who may be at higher risk – and deliver them without making contact with others.

Things like having dinner outdoors with a small group of family and friends who live in your community and small outdoor sports events are considered medium-risk activities when it comes to the potential for spreading the virus. 

MDH is asking people to avoid higher-risk activities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These activities include shopping in crowded stores, attending crowded races or parades and going to large indoor gatherings with people who do not live with you.

As with any activity, MDH stresses that people follow the basic health guidelines of staying home from in-person gatherings if you're sick, wearing a mask, washing your hands and staying six feet apart from those who aren't in your household (see more tips below).

Traveling

State health officials and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both say traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading the coronavirus, noting staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. 

The CDC lists flights with layovers in the highest risk category, along with traveling on cruise ships and riverboats, while direct flights or long-distance train and bus trips are listed as slightly less of a risk. Meanwhile, short trips by car with members of your household are listed in the lowest-risk category.

When deciding if you should travel for the holidays (or any other occasion), the CDC encourages people to consider the level of community spread where you're coming from and where you're going as well as if anyone you are visiting could get very sick if they get COVID-19. 

Those who are planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, which in non-pandemic years is the busiest time of year for air travel, can start preparing for their trip now. 

On Monday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released some tips for travelers so they know what to expect at the airport since it's been so long since many people flew. They include:

  • TSA staff and passengers will be wearing masks. As a traveler, you will be asked to momentarily remove your mask so TSA can verify your identity. Packing an extra mask or two can be helpful.
  • TSA asks that people stay six feet apart in lines and from TSA personnel. 
  • Acrylic shielding has been installed throughout TSA checkpoints to help protect TSA employees and travelers. 
  • Travelers can bring one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces in carry-on luggage (this is more than the liquid limit for other items). 
  • TSA has increased cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched checkpoint surfaces and screening equipment, including bins. 

Health guidelines for every day of the year

MDH has a list of reminders for gatherings of any kind during the COVID-19 pandemic to help prevent the spread of the virus.

They are:

  • Stay home if you're sick, at a higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19 or if you've potentially been exposed to the virus.
  • Avoid traveling as it increases the chance of you getting and spreading COVID-19.
  • Keep gatherings small – indoor events should be limited to 10 people or fewer, while outdoor gatherings should have a maximum of 25 people.
  • Host gatherings outside whenever possible.
  • If you're hosting an event indoors, open windows and/or doors to allow air to flow.
  • Wear a mask whenever you're gathering with people you don't live with – this goes for both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
  • Encourage people to bring their own food and drinks – don't share utensils or drinking cups.
  • Stay 6 feet away from people with who you do not live.
  • Remember who you gathered with – keep a list of invited guests in case someone gets COVID-19. This will be helpful if the health department calls in its effort to contact trace. 

The latest forecast from Sven Sundgaard

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.34.43 AM

Watch: Drunk squirrel in Minnesota captures the world's attention

The squirrel was immediately cut off after nearly tipping over.

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.15.09 PM

Small town gym refusing to close facing lawsuit from attorney general

The gym is facing a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order to halt their operations.

credit card, payment

Money Gal Coaching: Bouncing back after living your best life

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.

flickr-mall-of-america-mitchell-hirsch-march-2019

When do stores open on Black Friday this year?

Many major retailers will be open Black Friday, some for extended hours.

police tape, crime scene

Man found dead outside home near Cass Lake

The man was reportedly shot outside the property.

Minnesota_Welcome_Sign_-_Minnesota_Welcomes_You_-_Taylors_Falls_(28269804891)

Gov. Walz announces $1M in grants to boost Minnesota tourism

The money will be used for marketing efforts to attract people to Minnesota's hard-hit tourist spots.

coronavirus, ICU

Nov. 25 COVID-19 update: 72 deaths ties Minnesota's single-day high

A COVID-19 update will not be provided on Thanksgiving Day.

Texa-Tonka

Revival to open its fourth Twin Cities location

The fried chicken and smoked meat maestros are moving to St. Louis Park.

Duluth and Case Recreation Center

St. Paul to open two extra temporary shelters for homeless people

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the new shelters will be opened in the event of excess demand.

Related

cranberries-4658413_1280

Dinner with extended family? CDC issues Thanksgiving COVID-19 guidance

An outdoor dinner with a small group is considered a moderate-risk activity.

thanksgiving turkey

As COVID-19 surges, CDC urges people to stay home for Thanksgiving

The federal agency recommends people avoid traveling and only celebrating the holiday at home with people they live with.

dinner-1733171_1280

MDH changes advice, says Minnesotans should skip Thanksgiving gatherings

"As tempting as it is to stick with our cherished traditions this year, we really need people to reconsider and frankly not gather with other households."

barbecue

MDH: Wear a mask, spread out when celebrating this weekend

"We need to be in a new normal and to continue to stay vigilant this weekend to protect ourselves and our loved ones," MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

wedding reception

MDH provides more guidance on new wedding capacity limits

The new rules only apply to the reception, not the ceremony.

pumpkins halloween

Check out MN's COVID-19 guidelines for Halloween, Dia de los Muertos

Carving pumpkins and no-contact trick-or-treating are safer options to celebrate, MDH says.

covid-19, coronavirus

CDC re-issues guidance on how COVID-19 can spread via the air

Last month, the CDC updated its guidance and then removed it. Now it's back up – sort of.