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CDC suggests guidelines for a safe Thanksgiving amid the pandemic

The Thanksgiving turkey dinner may be subject to

The Thanksgiving turkey dinner may be subject to CDC suggested guidelines this year due to the pandemic. Credit: Getty Images/John Moore

If you're planning a big dinner for Thanksgiving, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some advice for you. Don't.

In this season of the coronavirus pandemic, the agency said, in its recent recommendations on holiday celebrations, that "lower risk" activity for Thanksgiving would be preferable.

"Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household," was one of the agency's suggestions.

The CDC also recommended:

  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.

The agency said "moderate risk activities" included hosting an outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community.

The CDC said if an outdoor gathering was not feasible, then the indoor space should be well-ventilated by, for example, opening a window. The agency also recommended that tables and chairs be arranged to allow for social distancing and grouping people in the same households together.

It added, "People from the same household can be in groups together and don’t need to be 6 feet apart – just 6 feet away from other families."

The agency warns people to "minimize gestures that promote close contact," recommending against handshakes, hugs and elbow bumps in favor of waving or verbal greetings.

"Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together," the CDC guidelines said, but noted that that travel can increase the chance of getting and spreading the virus. "Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others."

The agency said if people travel, they should know the risks of options such as staying at hotels.

"Your chances of exposure are higher if you come into close contact with others, especially people you don’t know, or use shared public facilities (like restrooms or picnic areas)," the agency said.

The agency noted that COVID-19 "is spreading in the United States. Visiting parts of the country where there are fewer cases of COVID-19 may be less risky than visiting parts of the country where there are more cases of COVID-19."

The lowest travel risk, the agency said, was a short car trip with no stops along the way accompanied by only members of your household.