This promises to be a holiday season like no other in our memory, what with the hotly contested election, a new series of lockdowns and restrictions, and another wave of COVID-19 taking over the mainstream media headlines.
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, the Centers for Disease Control, individual states, and a handful of universities seem to be competing for the most "thorough" advice on how families and friends should handle the holiday.
Some families are voluntarily changing how they intend to celebrate this year due to their concerns about the health of family members, which is understandable and well within their rights,. However, others are chafing at what they see as the restrictive and invasive nature of the "guidance."
Trigger Warning: A while back, I wrote an article about 12 words and phrases I never wanted to read again. This article is FILLED with them.
The CDC has come out with this advice for a "safe" Thanksgiving.
Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
Host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible. Even outdoors, require guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.
Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
For additional information on increasing ventilation, visit CDC's information on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home.
Winter weather can be cold, wet, and unpredictable. Inclement weather makes it difficult to increase ventilation by opening windows or to hold an event outdoors.
If setting up outdoor seating under a pop-up open air tent, ensure guests are still seated with physical distancing in mind. Enclosed 4-wall tents will have less air circulation than open air tents. If outdoor temperature or weather forces you to put up the tent sidewalls, consider leaving one or more sides open or rolling up the bottom 12" of each sidewall to enhance ventilation while still providing a wind break.
Require guests to wear masks. At gatherings that include persons of different households, everyone should always wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose, except when eating or drinking. It is also important to stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not in your household at all times.
Encourage guests to avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors. Keep music levels down so people don't have to shout or speak loudly to be heard.
Provide guests information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps that will be in place at the gathering to prevent the spread of the virus.
Provide and/or encourage attendees to bring supplies to help everyone to stay healthy. These include extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues. Stock bathrooms with enough hand soap and single use towels.
Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items such as serving utensils.
Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
It remains to be seen if there will be any enforcement of this guidance or if these are merely suggestions. In no particular order, here are some of the announcements from various states about the upcoming holiday.
Governor Gavin Newsom of California was the first to issue advice for Thanksgiving.