MARION — Town Administrator James McGrail and the Marion Board of Health wish to share health and safety guidance for residents as they finalize plans and prepare for their Thanksgiving celebrations this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traveling increases one’s potential to be exposed to COVID-19 and of potentially spreading it to others, and the CDC strongly recommends that people do not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Staying home and observing the holidays with those in your household or hosting a virtual celebration are the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
It is important to note that small gatherings are also contributing to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide, according to the CDC. Those who still choose to travel or host a small gathering are urged to consider lower risk alternatives and review the precautions they can take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
“This year’s Thanksgiving will look different than previous years for many residents, and it is important to remember that COVID-19 has not gone away and we must still be cautious,” Public Health Nurse Lori Desmarais said. “We encourage residents to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday this year with those who live in their household to help limit the spread of the virus. We also urge residents to avoid large gatherings and continue to follow the proper precautions anytime you are in public and around people who do not live in your household.”
Families welcoming students home from college for the holidays, or any other visitors from out of state, should be mindful of the ongoing travel restrictions in effect throughout the Commonwealth. All travelers arriving from states that are not classified as lower-risk must complete a travel form and quarantine for 14 days or obtain a negative COVID-19 test result from a sample taken within 72 hours of arrival in Massachusetts. This includes Massachusetts residents returning from states other than those named. For the most up to date information on the state’s travel restrictions, click here.
For more information on testing and what to do while waiting for your results, click here. The closest Stop the Spread testing sites are located in New Bedford. For information about testing locations and availability nearby through the Stop the Spread initiative, click here.
Residents are reminded that, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), any time you are around people from outside of your household, you should:
- Wear a face covering, except when eating or drinking.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Practice social distancing and maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
- Be cognizant of those around you who may be at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, including older adults and those with certain medical conditions.
- If hosting or attending an indoor gathering, open windows and doors to improve ventilation.
The CDC recommends several lower risk activities to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, including:
- Hosting a Thanksgiving meal with only those who live in your household
- Preparing family and traditional recipes and providing contactless delivery to family and neighbors.
- Hosting a virtual dinner.
- Instead of participating in in-person Black Friday shopping, shop online.
- Watch sporting events, parades and movies at home.
Moderate risk activities for this holiday season outlined by the CDC include:
- Hosting a small outdoor dinner with family, friends and loved ones who live locally.
- Remember: outdoor residential gatherings in Massachusetts are limited to 25 people maximum. All social gatherings must end by 9:30 p.m.
- To review the CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings, click here.
- Visit a pumpkin patch or orchard. Familiarize yourself with the COVID-19 expectations of any business before visiting, and be sure the people around you are using hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
- Go to a small sporting event outside, as long as COVID-19 guidance including social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing/sanitizing is being followed.
The CDC warns against the following high risk activities this Thanksgiving:
- Participating in Black Friday shopping in-person or shopping in busy stores before or after Thanksgiving.
- Attending a crowded race, parade or sporting event.
- Going to indoor gatherings with people outside of your household. Remember: In Massachusetts, all indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs, which may impair judgement and impact your ability to practice COVID-19 precautions.
Those planning to host or attend gatherings are encouraged to weigh the level of risk of exposure to COVID-19 that they will face. Factors to consider include COVID-19 cases or community spread in the area, indoor versus outdoor gatherings and the availability of ventilation, how long you will be at the gathering, and if those at the gathering practice COVID-19 precautions in their daily lives and while they’re at the gathering. Additionally, residents considering holiday plans are reminded that a negative COVID-19 test result is only reflective of the time the test was taken.
For additional guidance on navigating the holidays amid COVID-19 from the CDC, including additional information on hosting or attending a gathering, food and drinks at small gatherings, travel and overnight stays, and what to do if you’re exposed to COVID-19 at a holiday party, click here. For more tips for celebrating Thanksgiving this year from the DPH, click here.
Any resident with questions or concerns is asked to contact the Marion Board of Health at 508-748-3530.