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Governor Advocates For Thanksgiving Changes Amid COVID Concerns

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Most Thanksgivings, Utahns get as close together as possible with the people they love. But this year, Governor Gary Herbert stressed that’s a dangerous idea.

“Avoid potluck type of dinners, which is a normal thing for Thanksgiving,” he said Thursday in his monthly press conference from PBS Utah. “But this is not a normal Thanksgiving time.”

He encouraged all Utahns to recognize the things they are thankful for and enjoy the holidays. But make it safe, he said, to keep COVID cases from skyrocketing even further.

“We’ve tried a variety of different approaches, none of which seem to be working,” he said.

Gov. Herbert knows many people have already changed their Thanksgiving plans to stay safe.

In his address, he urged everyone to take the guidance from medical experts seriously.

“That’s just good counsel,” he said. “Whether people heed the counsel, I guess, remains to be seen. But we’re giving the best advice that medicine and science has to offer, and we would be derelict if we did not pass it on to you.”

The more people who gather together and the longer that interaction lasts, he said, the more risky that situation becomes for catching and spreading COVID-19. So, stick to your own household and mask up whenever you’re with someone else, he said.

“In order to have the safest holiday gathering possible, you should in fact, gather with only members from your own home,” said the governor.

The governor’s office told residents to call off any gathering if you’re feeling sick, and to celebrate outside, if possible.

For those who can’t be outside, he said, make sure your home is well ventilated, and keep gatherings small and short.

“The shorter you can do it, again, the less risk is involved in that gathering,” said Herbert.

Current public health orders expire Monday.

The governor said he plans to extend the mask mandate, but ease the restriction on gathering only with your household, even though that is the best advice.

“We’re taking that out of the order,” he said. “What you do in the confines of your own home is going to be up to you.”

He was on a conference call with President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday.

The governor said he hopes Biden will offer federal help on the COVID response and continue to let states make their own decisions on restrictions.

More details on the emergency public health guidelines will be released on Monday.

“We’re trying to do the best we can with the best medical advice we have available to us here in the state of Utah,” he said.

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