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NC offers advice for a COVID-19 safe Thanksgiving, Black Friday

Posted November 9, 2020 11:25 a.m. EST
Updated November 16, 2020 9:06 a.m. EST

Mimicking guidance from local doctors and national health experts, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is offering their own suggestions for safe holiday celebrations.

The NCDHHS recommends social distancing and other precautions for both Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping this year.

Keep Thanksgiving 'household only'

Above all, with the state's daily coronavirus totals on the rise, families are encouraged to only gather with members of their immediate household for Thanksgiving feasts this year.

"The best way to protect loved ones during Thanksgiving is to limit travel and gatherings with anyone who does not live in your household," said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen. "If you do plan to get together, there are important steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19."

Those steps include outdoor dining when possible, mask wearing and seating different households at separate tables. Five on Your Side also reports it's best to designate one or two family members to make plates for everyone, avoiding a "buffet-style" dinner.

It's also a good idea to get tested then isolate a week before gathering with family. Anyone with symptoms or who was exposed to COVID-19 should stay home.

"Consider getting a screening test ahead of your Thanksgiving travel or gathering. If you test positive, stay home and isolate. If you test negative, it’s not a free pass. Wear a mask and practice all 3Ws, including keeping 6 feet of distance from others and washing hands often," Cohen said.

Anyone over the age of 65 or who is at higher risk for COVID-19 complications, including pregnant women and people with diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing issues or obesity, is encouraged to avoid gathering with extended family

Black Friday goes virtual

Online shopping is best for Black Friday this year, state officials say. Anyone who does shop in person should follow the 3Ws -- wear a mask, wash your hands and wait at least six feet apart from others -- and avoid gathering in crowds.

Stores should be operating at 50% capacity, but it's up to customers to protect themselves and others. SmartShopper has lists of Black Friday deals at Walmart, Target, Kohl's and other retailers.

How to keep it fun

The guidelines may be less than ideal for many families, but the NCDHHS does offer suggestions to keep spirits high:

  • Prepare and safely deliver Thanksgiving meals to senior citizens or family members who cannot gather for the holidays.
  • Use Zoom or another platform to participate in a virtual Thanksgiving dinner with family members near and far.
  • Instead of going out on Thanksgiving, watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or a holiday movie with your household.