With coronavirus cases on the rise, the demand for COVID-19 testing increasing and the holidays quickly approaching, officials in New England have been sharing guidelines and advice about safely celebrating Thanksgiving.
The holiday comes amid an uptick of cases across the region and country, and as governors in New England sound the alarm about small gatherings involving multiple households.
Here's what states and officials in New England have said about Thanksgiving.
In a list of guidelines specific to Thanksgiving, Massachusetts is suggesting that those who plan to host a holiday celebration keep it limited to only people you live with. The guidelines also indicate that people should consider celebrating the holiday virtually, especially if anyone is at higher risk for illness from COVID-19.
"The science on this one's pretty clear -- gathering in groups indoors for an extended period of time with family and friends is likely the worst possible scenario for spreading the virus," Gov. Charlie Baker said earlier this month.
People who do attend a gathering indoors should keep the event short, wear masks, wash their hands frequently and avoid shouting.
Those considering travel should be aware of Massachusetts travel orders.
The city of Boston also released guidance around safely celebrating the holiday. In a statement, Mayor Marty Walsh's administration said:
- Keep it small and limit the number of guests. In Boston, indoor gatherings should be 10 people or less.
- Ask guests to wear a mask unless eating and drinking, and stay 6 feet apart when possible.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
- Ask guests to avoid going in and out of areas where food is being prepared and handled, like the kitchen.
- Do not share food, drink, or any utensils.
- Have guests bring their own food and drink.
- Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, potlucks, or drink stations.
- If sharing food, have one person (wearing a face mask and gloves) serve food and use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
- Consider small seating table arrangements in multiple rooms with plenty of spacing, instead of a large family table.
- Improve ventilation by opening windows and doors.
- For 14 days before and after holiday gatherings, minimize contact with other people, and leave home only for essential services like going to work, buying groceries, and appointments with doctors.
The state is asking people to consider smaller Thanksgiving gatherings, limiting them to ten people. The Department of Public Health and Gov. Ned Lamont are also urging people to restrict non-essential trips outside the home.
Travelers from states (not including New York, New Jersey, or Rhode Island) with a positive case rate greater than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% test positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average, are required to self-quarantine for 14 days following the last day they were in another state or country.
Travelers from a state with a positivity rate higher than 5% are instructed to self-isolate for 14 days, or test negative for COVID-19 from a test administered up to 72 hours before traveling. Visitors coming to the Ocean State are being asked to complete a compliance certificate and travel screening form upon arrival.
In a news conference last month, Gov. Gina Raimondo acknowledged the risk that a "normal" Thanksgiving celebration would pose this year.
"I'm just telling you it's in the state's best interest if everyone stays local. It's in our public health interest, the interest of our economy, and it's in your interest. You'll stay healthier and safer," said Raimondo.
Click here for additional information on Rhode Island's travel restrictions.
The administration of Gov. Janet Mills announced earlier this month that Massachusetts was no longer exempt from the state's quarantine or negative test requirement. This means that visitors from the Bay State, including Mainers coming from Massachusetts, must test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine when coming to Maine.
While New Hampshire and Vermont are still exempt from the 14-day quarantine or negative test requirement, Mills is urging visitors from these two states and Mainers returning from them to get tested before leaving, especially during the holiday season.
“Like most people in Maine, I am extremely concerned about the spread of this virus as we head into the holiday season when we customarily gather with friends and family, often in neighboring states,” Mills said on Friday.
Travelers from the surrounding New England states entering the Granite State are no longer being instructed to self-quarantine for two weeks. Travelers entering the state from outside New England, however, are being asked to quarantine for 14 days.
Click here for additional information on New Hampshire's travel restrictions.
Gov. Chris Sununu told the Seacoast Media Group editorial board his family would celebrate the holiday in low-key fashion.
“We’re laying low, probably just Valerie and the kids,” Sununu said, according to Seacoast Online. “I might pop over and just say hi to mom and dad.”
“It’s a sacrifice, but one that I think everyone has to hopefully appreciate and hopefully, not just hear the message, but change their plans accordingly,” he added.
The state has suspended its leisure travel map and replaced it with a mandatory quarantine for anyone returning or traveling to Vermont. Those traveling outside of the state, regardless of the length of the trip, must quarantine in Vermont for 14 days upon arrival. Returners who don't have any symptoms of COVID-19 have the option to finish quarantine early by seeking a PCR test on or after Day 7, as long as the test comes back negative.
Vermonters have also been urged to avoid non-essential travel, including within the state itself.
“Please, make these sacrifices now, keeping Thanksgiving and any other social gatherings within your own household,” Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s health commissioner, said Tuesday. “So we can have a holiday to truly be thankful for next year.”
More information on the Scott administration's new restrictions can be found here.