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Thanksgiving During COVID-19: Keep it Small, Stay Vigilant

It is imperative to understand the risk in our community to inform our decisions. Right now, community spread is increasing on Cape Cod. As the holiday season approaches, the choices we make will significantly impact what the winter looks like in our region. We are still very fortunate that we are not in a “shut down” phase, and we want to continue to avoid this.

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays of the year, and many people traditionally head home to gather with friends and family. However, this year the experts say it’s best to avoid travel and keep your gathering small and safe.

If you decide to host a dinner, please think about air supply and ventilation, keep your guest list at a minimum, keep the length of the visit shorter, and when you set up tables, provide distancing and eliminate the need for people to get up and walk around during the meal.

For further information and guidelines from the CDC, go to CDC tips for hosting gatherings and

Visit for information, travel orders and guidelines from


According to the CDC, the following lists potential activities during the holidays with the corresponding risk level.


Low-Risk Activities:

  • A small dinner with the people in your household

  • A virtual dinner with family and friends

  • Preparing food for family and neighbors (especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 who are social distancing), and delivering it to them without person-to-person contact

  • Shopping online rather than in person on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies at home


Moderate Risk Activities:

  • A small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community

  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people are taking COVID-19 safety precautions like using hand sanitizer, wearing masks, and maintaining social distance

  • Small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place


Higher Risk Activities:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving

  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race

  • Attending crowded parades

  • Using alcohol or drugs

  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household


The bottom line is that gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. As we head into the winter, we must continue to socially distance, wear masks properly, continue to practice regular hand-washing and other safe hygiene practices, and if not feeling well, stay home. That is how we made it through back in March, April, and May, and that is what we must continue to do through the holiday season.