Columbus Regional Releases Interim Guidance for Thanksgiving

Posted on November 11, 2020 by Web Administrator

Any scenario in which many people gather together poses a risk for COVID-19 transmission. This guidance is intended for people celebrating Thanksgiving outlining lower and moderate risk activities, as well as the higher risk activities that should be avoided to keep our communities safe.

Decreasing risk during the holidays:

  • The best way to reduce your risk of viral transmission is to limit travel during the holidays and limit physical contact with people who do not live in your household.
  • You should practice the 3W’s. These 3Ws are even more important if you are getting together with someone at high risk of complications with COVID-19.

Travel and gathering during the holidays:

If you are traveling and/or are planning to be with family members you do not live with during the holidays, there are steps you should take to reduce the risk of viral spread.

  • You should consider having a screening COVID-19 test prior to travel or attending family gatherings. If you do have a screening test, consider the following important information:
    • A negative test only gives you information for that point in time. A negative test does not mean you will remain negative at any point after that test.
    • Screening tests may miss some infections, particularly if done using a rapid or “point of care” tests.
    • Even if you have a negative test, you should wear a mask, physically distance, avoid crowds and indoor crowded places, wash your hands frequently, monitor yourself for symptoms, and minimize contact with people at high risk of complications of COVID-19.

If you are planning in-person holiday gatherings with people outside your household:

Before the event:

  • You should consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
  • Remind invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, sink handles, bathroom surfaces) before guests come over and in between uses.
  • Keep the guest list small. When deciding how many people to invite to your gathering, consider the amount of space you have and the ability to maintain social distancing during the event.
  • Higher risk guests should consider attending events virtually, so they can remain safely at home.
  • If higher-risk individuals do attend gatherings in person, ensure the 3Ws are practiced by all guests and limit the number of other guests in attendance as much as possible.
  • The day before the event, all guests should screen for symptoms and stay home if they are not feeling well.

During the Thanksgiving Event:

  • Host your gathering outdoors, when possible. If this is not feasible, make sure the room or space is well- ventilated by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
  • Arrange tables and chairs to allow for social distancing between guests. People from the same household can be in groups together and do not need to be 6 feet apart-just 6 feet away from other groups or families.
  • Practice the 3 Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash) during the event: Wear a face covering when not eating or drinking, Wait six feet apart from others, and Wash your hands regularly.
    • When guests need to remove a face covering to eat or drink, it is recommended they maintain 6 feet distance from people outside their household and put their face coverings back on after they are done eating or drinking.
  • Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible. Have one household approach the food serving area at a time to prevent congregating. Consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Use single-serve options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, and condiments, so that multiple people are not handling the items.

For more recommendations on how to safely attend a gathering, please follow the NCDHHS Guidance for Private Social Gatherings and Guidelines for Get-Togethers and only engage in the lower or moderate risk activities below.

Lower Risk Activities

  • Having a 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 from COVID-19, then delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

Moderate Risk Activities

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
  • Attending a small outdoor sports event with safety precautions in place
  • Attending a reverse parade, where spectators remain in their car and drive-by floats or performers
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing

Higher Risk Activities

Avoid these higher-risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household or with people who do not practice the 3W’s (wear, wait, and wash)
  • Attending parades-under the current Executive Order traditional parades are prohibited mass gatherings and limited in size
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race.
    • Remember that any gathering of more than 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors is prohibited statewide.

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