Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Federal health experts urged Americans to change their behavior for the Thanksgiving holiday to limit the spread of the coronavirus infection by avoiding Black Friday shopping crowds and "turkey trots" and limiting family dinners to smaller groups.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines to celebrate fall festivals and categorized as "high risk" some traditional Thanksgiving activities such as shopping and attending crowded sports events, church services or parades.
Drinking alcohol or using drugs could also lead to risky behaviors that could spread the virus, the agency said. The CDC warned against "attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household," as high-risk for Thanksgiving.
The agency also warned against unnecessary travel.
"Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together," the agency said on its website. "Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others."
The CDC said the lowest-risk Thanksgiving activities included limiting the size of Thanksgiving dinner to just immediate family members, sharing a "virtual dinner" with friends and family, or organizing a contactless delivery of a meal for family members who are at higher risk.
The agency also suggested shopping online rather than in-person on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and watching sporting events, parades and movies on television.
New York's famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade will be held virtually this year.
Moderate-risk activities included hosting an outdoor Thanksgiving cookout, and visiting apple orchards and pumpkin patches while wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, the CDC said. The agency also categorized as moderately risky "small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place."
Already some big-box retailers such as Home Depot have announced that they were canceling Black Friday sales by extending sale-pricing online and in stores throughout the holiday season. Best Buy, Kohls, Dick's Sporting Goods, Walmart and others announced stores would be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
Other companies, such as Target, announced that holiday sales would start early in October.
"Let's face it: Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn't a year for crowds," Target said on its site.