The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has released new guidance for Thanksgiving celebrations and Black Friday shopping to help North Carolinians gauge the risks, protect their friends and loved ones, and slow the spread of COVID-19.
“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 Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “If you do plan to get together, there are important steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to your family and friends.”
Because North Carolina is experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 cases across the state, NCDHHS urges caution when gathering for Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations, especially for gatherings that include people who are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19, such as anyone over the age of 65.
If people do plan on traveling or gathering, they should consider having a screening COVID-19 test three to four days ahead of time. A screening test can help someone know if they have COVID-19 even if they do not have yet have symptoms. However, a screening test can miss some infections. Furthermore, a negative test only gives you information for that point in time. Screening tests are available at state-funded community testing events. Call ahead to other testing sites to see if they offer screening tests at their locations. Community testing events and other testing sites are listed online at ncdhhs.gov/testingplace.
“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 hand often,” Secretary Cohen said.
People who have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around a person with COVID-19, should not host or participate in any in-person gatherings until they complete their isolation or quarantine period.
For a full list of guidance about traveling and gathering during the holidays, along with a chart outlining low, medium and high-risk activities, see the NCDHHS Interim Guidance for Thanksgiving Holiday.
During Black Friday shopping, it is strongly recommended individuals do not participate in any traditional Black Friday shopping where customers gather in large groups waiting for the store to open or are in crowded stores for extended times.
Any large gathering of people poses an increased risk for spreading COVID-19. People at high risk for COVID-19 complications should limit in-person shopping. And people who have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, have COVID-19 like symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19, should not shop in person until their isolation or quarantine period is over.
Individuals who do shop in person should follow the 3Ws and remember stores are limited to 50 percent capacity. For further Black Friday guidance, including step-by-step tips for how to reduce risk while shopping, see the NCDHHS Interim Guidance for Black Friday Shopping.