Boston: A message from Commissioner McCosh: Celebrating the holidays

Dear Disability Community Members,

As you know, our holiday season is going to look very different this year. Traditional gatherings with extended family members and friends may spread the coronavirus and increase your chances of contracting COVID-19.

The best way to ensure a safe Thanksgiving Day in 2020 is to stay at home and spend the day with people in your immediate household. So as we prepare to give thanks this week, I'd like to share some information from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) about ways you can stay healthy while celebrating the holidays during COVID-19.

  • Keep it small - in Boston, indoor gatherings should be 10 people or less
  • Wear a mask unless you're eating, and stay 6 feet apart when possible
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use
  • Ask guests not to go in and out of the kitchen where food is being prepared
  • Avoid self-serve food and drink options, such as buffets, potlucks, or stations
  • Have just one person serve all the food, while wearing a face mask and gloves
  • Provide single-use condiments and individual salt & pepper packets
  • Use disposable food containers, paper plates & cups, and plastic utensils
  • Arrange small seating areas in multiple rooms instead of setting one large table
  • Improve ventilation and air circulation by opening windows and doors

Traveling out of state also increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. But if you must travel, keep these tips in mind.

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  • Learn which other states are at high risk for COVID-19, and follow their rules
  • Look up the latest info about Massachusetts travel restrictions
  • Quarantine for 14 days when you get home, or produce a negative COVID-19 test result
  • Wear a face covering at all times when you are out in public
  • Stay 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household
  • Get a flu shot before traveling, if you have not already
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth

BPHC health officials are encouraging families to find safer, alternative, or virtual ways to celebrate the holidays this year. Here are some suggestions to take the place of traditional Thanksgiving celebrations.

  • Have a small Thanksgiving dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Host a virtual dinner with extended family and friends
  • Show off your favorite dishes by posting pics online
  • Share your favorite recipes, and try new recipes shared by others
  • Host a Thanksgiving meal outdoors, if possible
  • Go for a walk with extended family members, rather than gathering inside
  • Prepare a traditional meal and deliver it to the homes of your family and friends
  • Shop online rather than in person for your Thanksgiving feast
  • Use contactless services, like curbside pick-up, or shop in open air markets

Residents who may have COVID-19, are not feeling well, or have been exposed to the virus should stay home and not host or participate in any in-person gatherings. Residents who are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions, should also not take part in any in-person gatherings.

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Read more on the Thanksgiving guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you need assistance. You can dial 311 to reach City Hall or call us at 617-635-3682. Our email is and the latest updates are available at

Until next week, please stay informed, stay safe, and stay healthy - and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Commissioner Kristen McCoshstats

Filed Under: Government, City

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