Santa Cruz, Bay Area health officials release Thanksgiving recommendations

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Health officers from Santa Cruz County and counties and cities around the Bay Area issued recommendations for celebrating Thanksgiving safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recommendations encompass gatherings, travel and recommended steps to reduce risk.

“While we have made progress in reducing disease transmission and reopening our economy, many activities remain risky and we all must work together and make sure vulnerable members of our community are protected,” said Dr. Gail Newel, Health Officer for the County of Santa Cruz. “When people who live in different houses or apartments are together at the same time in the same space, risk of COVID-19 spreading goes up, even when the people are relatives or friends. Please celebrate safely this year and protect yourself and your family by including face coverings, keeping a distance, and staying outdoors.”


While activities that include people from different households can increase the risk of virus transmission, there are ways to gather more safely. If you plan to hold a gathering over the holidays, health officials recommend keeping it safe, small, short and stable.

Outdoor gatherings are considered safer than indoor, and gathering inside is not allowed under the state’s health order. If 75%, or three sides, of the space is open to the outdoors, it is allowed. People may go inside to use the restrooms as long as they are sanitized often and only one person goes at a time.

Another way to reduce risk is to limit gatherings to three households or fewer and limit them to no more than two hours. Health officers also recommend not participating in multiple gatherings with different households to reduce the spread of the virus.

To serve food safely, health officers recommend single-serve disposable containers or food and drinks served by one person who washes their hands often and wears a face covering.


Health officials still do not recommend non-essential travel and say traveling outside the area increases chances of getting infected or spreading it to others.

If you do travel, officials strongly recommend self-quarantining for 14 days after returning, especially if you have spent time within 6 feet of people you normally do not live with and somebody was not wearing a face covering or after using public transportation or shared vehicles if masks were not worn at all times.

To reduce risk, it is recommended that everyone wears face coverings, maintains physical distance, ventilate the space, wash hands often, avoid touching your face, avoid contact with anyone who is sick, avoid contact with high-touch surfaces, get tested before and after travel and get a flu shot.

Because of how air is circulated and filtered, health officials said viruses to not spread easily on planes, but people are still within 6 feet of each other for long periods of time and people spend time in security lines and airport terminals.

Officials recommend not sharing vehicles with people you do not live with because viruses can spread easily between people in small, enclosed spaces.

California does not require travelers to quarantine when they arrive or return, but some other governments have requirements or restrictions in place.


Health officials say the safest way to celebrate is virtually or with members of your own household. Some safe ways to celebrate include:

  • Continuing traditions at home
  • Decorate homes and yards
  • Share a virtual meal with family and friends
  • Participate in online parties or contests
  • Prepare traditional recipes
  • Attend a drive-in holiday movie night
  • Visit outdoor art installations
  • Participate in drive-by events

Read the full guidance here.

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