British Columbia

Share turkey, not COVID: Top doctors give tips for a safe Thanksgiving

With turkey, thanks, and togetherness at top of mind for many, B.C. health experts have some tips on how to give thanks this holiday season, without giving COVID a chance to spread.

Experts give advice on how to have a COVID-safe holiday weekend

Health officials advise avoiding shared serving utensils and shared serving dishes this Thanksgiving, along with keeping gatherings short and to groups of six. (Bree Fowler/Associated Press)

With turkey, thanks, and togetherness at top of mind for many, B.C. health experts have some tips on how to give thanks this holiday season, without giving COVID-19 a chance to spread.

Oct. 12 will mark Thanksgiving across the country, but like just about everything else during the pandemic, it will require sacrifice and adapting, according to B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, took to Twitter on Sunday to say it's time to create "some ingenious Canadian COVID-19 'holiday hacks.'"

Dr. Tam's call was echoed by experts in B.C. who said get creative, but stick to the basics when it comes to COVID hygiene practices and don't forget to be meticulous about handwashing, covering coughs, and wearing non-medical masks or face coverings where appropriate.

How to give thanks safely

"Avoid shared meals or shared utensils. Not using the same serving spoon is obvious. Not feeding from the same plate and handing it across the table," said Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia.

Murthy also warned while sticking to six is the recommendation from Henry, even within that bubble of six, people need to adapt during Thanksgiving, upcoming holidays and celebrations.

"Keep it shorter than you would usually. Not necessarily have the long, prolonged meals that we had previously," Dr. Murthy said because risk of spreading the virus increases with the duration of an exposure within a close space. 

WATCH | Dr. Bonnie Henry gives tips for a safe Thanksgiving this year: 

How to host a safe Thanksgiving celebration

CBC News BC

2 months agoVideo
1:21
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Thanksgiving should be large in gratitude this year, but small in size. 1:21

Henry reiterated that message by saying, "Make our celebration large in thanks, large in gratitude, but small in size."

She said there's no need to leave family and friends out, but make the connection by phone or video call. 

"Make sure you have ways to include others that you might normally have in the room with you, remotely," Henry said.

Opt out of a buffet style meal, serve individual plates of food instead and sit apart from those not in your household.

Or spend Thanksgiving outdoors if you can.

Thanksgiving to go

Now, if you plan to have a small bubble over to mark the day, some restaurants are stepping in with their own holiday hack and prepping Thanksgiving to-go packages to order.

Brandon Dac, the co-owner of Boy With a Knife, said it's one way of hosting a COVID-safe gathering with fewer people involved in bringing food from different places.

"It really gives people piece of mind that they can show up to someone's house that's hopefully within their bubble and everything is going to come pre-prepped, pre-ready to go, and so, there's minimal people having to be involved in the actual cooking," Dac said.

He said the food can be pre-prepped in one location, a restaurant, by staff gloved and masked, working at a distance and picked up to be heated and dished out.

"We're sanitizing the stations [and] we're doing extra cleaning for basically a full strip-down of our kitchen, every week multiple times," Dac said.

Henry said getting creative is the name of the game when it comes to the holiday season.

With Thanksgiving just days away, it could be the first look at how future holidays can be spent safely.

"I really believe that Santa Claus will know how to do this and do it safely as well," Henry said.

About the Author

Zahra Premji

Host/Reporter

Zahra Premji is a host/reporter for CBC News Vancouver. She has worked as a host for CBC Alberta News in Edmonton, and a reporter in B.C. and Manitoba on various stories from racism to health and crime to asylum seekers and immigration. You can reach her at zahra.premji@cbc.ca

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