How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in 2020

Here's everything you should know from health experts about how to safely celebrating Thanksgiving this year.

Nov. 18, 2020 4   min read

Thanksgiving guidance 2020

Thanksgiving is one of America’s favorite holidays—a day to give thanks to the people and things that we have in our lives. But like everything in 2020, this year’s Thanksgiving will look different. Hosting a large group or attending a gathering at someone else’s home can increase your chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to only celebrate with people in your household.

If you do plan to attend a gathering in a county that is in the Yellow, Orange, or Red Zone, make sure your plans align with the New York State zoning guidelines—and always wear a mask, stay physically distant from others, and wash or sanitize your hands regularly. 

Thanksgiving 2020 Safety Guidance

Wear a Mask

If you host guests from outside your household or attend a gathering, wear a mask to decrease the risk of germs spreading. Even if everyone has tested negative for COVID, other germs can still spread through droplets in the air and result in the common cold, flu, sinus infection, and more.

  • Wear a mask with two or more layers
  • Wear it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Make sure the mask fits snug against the sides of your face

*If you are gathering with others outside your household, maintain social distancing and maximize ventilation by opening windows and spending time outdoors (if possible and weather permits.)

Wash Your Hands

It’s not realistic to avoid touching all surfaces, using utensils, and opening and closing doors on Thanksgiving, so washing your hands regularly can help protect your hands from transferring germs to your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

Don’t Travel

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19 and other infections. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Remember that New York State has new travel guidance in effect, so if you can’t avoid traveling during the holiday season, make sure to abide by the regulations.

If You Travel or Host Travelers

  • Check travel restrictions before you go
  • Get your flu shot before you travel
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer

Lower, moderate, & higher risk activities

The CDC has recognized a number of different ways people can celebrate Thanksgiving as well as common activities, and organized them into three categories of risk: low, moderate, and high.  

Lower Risk

  • Small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness, and delivering them contactless
  • Virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online the day after Thanksgiving or the following Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

Moderate Risk

  • Small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where hand hygiene, mask wearing, and social distancing practices are in place
  • Small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place

Higher Risk

  • Shopping in crowded stores before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household

Safe Thanksgiving Activities

Thanksgiving 2020 can be just as fun and gratifying as the Thanksgivings of the past. Here are a few new activities to do with your friends and family.

Go Virtual

  • Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family
  • Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared
  • Create a hashtag on social media where you can share your photos

Give to Others

  • Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to those less fortunate (leave on their porch)
  • Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family

Shop Online

  • Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and days leading up to the winter holidays
  • Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up
  • If you shop in-person, shop in open-air markets and stay six feet away from others
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