The State has prohibited all nonessential operations and gatherings from 10 p.m. - 5 a.m., effective 11/21/20 through 12/21/20, click here for details. City Hall remains closed to the public. Click here for the latest COVID-19 information and click here to connect with a helpful staff member.

As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Spread Cheer, Not Germs

November 16, 2020 9:00 AM
by Lindsay B. Call

As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Spread Cheer, Not Germs

Throughout 2020, I have had to be the frequent bearer of bad news for City staff and residents alike regarding changes to our daily lives due COVID-19. This responsibility has brought me no joy and has also prompted the cancellations and closure of some of my favorite activities. However, my North Star throughout the past eight months has been to do what it takes to save lives so that all families can have all of their family members at next year’s Thanksgiving and winter holidays.  


Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are surging in Los Angeles County and across the United States. Locally, Santa Monica saw its highest week of new cases since the pandemic began. So again, I have to implore the public to make changes to their favorite rituals to keep our community healthy.  

2020 has been tough on all of us and we all need joy this year. But while people are encouraged to be festive and celebrate the season, I caution that it must be balanced with great care for the health of those around you.  To help lower your holiday stress, here are some tips to mitigate the risks of spreading germs this season. 

Safely Celebrate 


2020 is the year to try new Thanksgiving traditions! Virtual gatherings (click here for ideas) are safest for both the host and attendees. They are truly the only way to ensure you prevent the spread of COVID-19 to friends and family.  

  • Host a cook/bake off with extended family from the safety of everyone’s own home. Take photos of the meal and vote which family member pulled off the dish the best! 
  • Have a virtual football event... with the new option of turning down the volume of the opposing team’s fans 
  • Share secret family recipes with one another so that if meals are eaten apart, the same great food can be enjoyed.  
  • Host a virtual dessert party where loved ones can come together for coffee and pie no matter the location.  
  • With all your virtual gatherings, use a fun Thanksgiving background to get in the holiday spirit! 

Small In-Person Gatherings  

If you do decide to gather with people outside your household, do so with care and follow LA County’s guidelines to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19.    

  • Stay at home when sick. Do not gather with anyone experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms.   
  • In LA County, all private gatherings must be outdoors, under two hours, limited to 15 people maximum who are members of no more than three total households, and households must remain physically distanced.
  • Check the LA County Small Private Gathering guidance for all local requirements.   
  • Use the CDC Holiday Celebration Guide for additional tips.   
  • If you are planning to attend a gathering with non-household members, ask guests to avoid contact with others for 14 days before gathering.  
  • Only gather with those you trust are following COVID-19 guidelines, like wearing a face covering and avoiding crowds. Have this conversation before your visit. 
  • Those who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness should avoid all in-person gatherings with people who do not live in their household.   
  • Large gatherings and special events continue to be explicitly prohibited in Santa Monica per the City’s Twenty-Fourth Supplement.   



Click here to view COVID-19 cases across the United States, visit the CDC's COVID data tracker. 

Governor Newsom issued a travel advisory urging visitors entering California or returning home from travel to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. The travel advisory urges against non-essential out-of-state travel, asks people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country, and encourage residents to stay local. In addition, the travel advisory also recommends Californians stay home or in their region and limit their interactions to their immediate household. 

For more information about the risk that travel itself poses for COVID-19 exposure, please visit the CDC page on travel risks. 

Food & Drink  

There’s nothing better than a Thanksgiving homemade feast! As a Midwesterner, my mom’s corn casserole is my personal favorite!  

Unfortunately, eating and drinking with others poses a higher risk of COVID-19 spread because of the inability to wear a face covering. Be smart if attending or hosting small private holiday gatherings.   

  • Only eat or drink in an outdoor setting with each household staying 6 feet apart when a face covering cannot be worn.  
  • Encourage participants to bring their own food or drink.  
  • If single-serve containers or personal food/drink are not possible, have only one person prepare and serve food to others and ensure that person is wearing a mask over their nose and mouth at all times.   
  • Avoid potluck-style or buffet gatherings, at work and at home.  
  • Support our local businesses and take a break from cooking. Check out this list of your favorite Santa Monica restaurants and grocers with holiday take-out and catering specials 
  • Wash your hands frequently! Make your guests wash their hands before and after preparing, serving, and eating food and after handling any trash.   
  • Communal containers, like a gravy dish or salt and pepper shakers, are not permitted. Use single use options when possible.  


While Black Friday might be a tradition, this year it is best to skip the lines and crowds.  

  • Buy local and support our small businesses that could use our love (and cash) more than ever! Check out our list of local Santa Monica businesses 
  • Consider shopping during off-peak hours. 
  • Call local businesses to see if they offer curbside pick-up or delivery options. 
  • Shop on Cyber Monday instead of Black Friday. 

As we modify our traditions, let’s all take a moment away from the holiday hustle and reflect on how much we have to be thankful for this year. I am so thankful for being able to serve a community that has demonstrated incredible resilience through unprecedented challenges. My thanks to each of you for doing your part to keep our community strong throughout 2020 


Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season!  

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