• By Pacific island Times News Staff

Table for five: DPHSS releases requirements for Thanksgiving celebration

The number of Covid-19 positive cases on Guam continues to explode, making Thanksgiving and the whole holiday season a precarious time to get together. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with."

CDC warned that "gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading Covid-19 or the flu."

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero earlier said she would be inclined to lift restrictions on social gathering if Guam's Covid Area Risk score goes down to five. As of Nov. 11, Guam's CAR score was 19.

With current CAR score too far from the target less than a week away from turkey day, the Department of Public Health and Social Services has set the minimum requirements for Thanksgiving celebration. Now, pick your closest friends.

"Congregations or social gatherings of more than five individuals where the individuals are not members of a single household are strictly prohibited," according to the DPHSS memo, citing the governor's executive order.

DPHSS Guidance Memorandum 2020-044 The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) provides the following guidance for Thanksgiving gatherings. As a reminder, congregations or social gatherings of more than five individuals where the individuals are not members of a single household are strictly prohibited (Governor’s Executive Order No. 2020-36).

The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to limit the gathering to people who live with you in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, there can only be a total of five persons at the gathering.

The following guidelines are designed to minimize the risk of Covid-19 infection and help make your celebration safer.

Wear a mask if you have guests in your household

  • Face masks must be worn by all individuals with the exception of children under the age of 2 or anyone who has difficulty breathing or a history of trouble breathing.

  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.

  • Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.

  • Store your mask safely away while eating and drinking.

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who live outside of your household

  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread Covid-19.

  • Keeping 6 feet away from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Wash your hands

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.

  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Attending a Gathering

In addition, the following preventive measures are recommended:

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.

  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.

Hosting a Thanksgiving Gathering

If having guests in your home, be sure that people follow the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer. Other steps you can take include:

  • Have a small outdoor meal with no more than five people who do not live in your household.

  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.

  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows to bring in fresh air.

  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.

  • If sharing food, assign one person to serve food.

  • If self-serve, then have an adequate number of single-use utensils for each person to use for each dish; a receptacle should also be accessible and available to hold all used utensils.

  • Use single-use articles, such as disposable containers, paper plates, and plastic utensils.

Consider Other Thanksgiving Activities

Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who don’t live with you.

  • Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually.

  • Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared.

  • Watch movies, sports, or other television shows at home.

  • Find a fun game to play.

  • Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others (for example, leave them on the porch).

  • Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.

The public is reminded to ensure that all other DPHSS guidance memoranda and minimum requirements must be followed.

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