Because we have a common language and culture, sometimes we forget the profound political differences between different parts of our vast country. These differences are highlighted when we compare Mississippi’s approach to the coronavirus and Thanksgiving with California’s.
As far as is known, no government in Mississippi has promulgated any special Thanksgiving virus restrictions. But that’s not true in California, where the state Department of Public Health’s website lists these mandatory requirements for Thanksgiving gatherings:
• Gatherings that include more than three households are prohibited.
• The host should collect names of all attendees and contact information in case contact tracing is needed later.
• All gatherings must be held outside. Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized.
• Gatherings may occur in outdoor spaces that are covered by umbrellas, canopies, awnings, roofs, and other shade structures provided that at least three sides of the space (or 75%) are open to the outdoors.
• For any gatherings permitted under this guidance, the space must be large enough so that everyone at a gathering can maintain at least a six-foot physical distance from others.
• Seating must provide at least six feet of distance (in all directions — front-to-back and side-to-side) between different households.
• Shared items should not be used during a gathering. As much as possible, any food or beverages at outdoor gatherings must be in single-serve disposable containers. If providing single-serve containers is not possible, food and beverages must be served by a person who washes or sanitizes their hands frequently, and wears a face covering. Self-serve items from communal containers should not be used.
• When gathering, face coverings must be worn in accordance with state guidance, unless an exemption is applicable.
• People at gatherings may remove their face coverings briefly to eat or drink as long as they stay at least six feet away from everyone outside their own household, and put their face covering back on as soon as they are done with the activity.
• Gatherings should be two hours or less.
• All people who are singing or chanting should wear a face covering at all times while singing or chanting, including anyone who is leading a song or chant.
• People who are singing or chanting are strongly encouraged to do so quietly (at or below the volume of a normal speaking voice).
• Instrumental music is allowed as long as the musicians maintain at least six-foot physical distancing. Musicians must be from one of the three households. Playing of wind instruments (any instrument played by the mouth, such as a trumpet or clarinet) is strongly discouraged.
Liberty Counsel is a non-profit organization that has been battling coronavirus restrictions, particularly when they hinder religious worship. Liberty founder and chairman Mat Staver said, “The same Gov. Gavin Newsom that has encouraged thousands of total strangers to protest together in the streets, now wants to impede upon the freedom of families and friends to enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday.
“For some families, Thanksgiving will not include grandma and the children or siblings. Imagine family members traveling for hours only to be restricted to a two-hour outdoor gathering without physical contact! What if the weather is too hot or cold or it rains? For Gov. Newsom to think he has authority to micromanage a private family Thanksgiving dinner is the height of hubris.
“These restrictions are ludicrous.”