With Thanksgiving only a couple of days away and new coronavirus cases continuing to surge, state officials are still urging New Jersey residents to limit the number of people at the dinner table.

In fact, Gov. Phil Murphy and other state officials have said, they'd rather you didn't hold a gathering with any guests outside your household at all. By executive order, indoor gatherings are now capped at 10 people. During Monday’s coronavirus update in Trenton, Murphy said hopefully you and your loved ones have made plans “to remain safe this Thanksgiving so we can look forward to bigger celebrations next year.”

He said with thousands of new COVID cases being reported every day and hospitalizations increasing, "the last thing we want is for anyone’s Thanksgiving to lead to empty spots in their homes for the celebrations yet to come."

And yet, Thanksgiving celebrations well beyond those the governor urges are nearly inevitable. So Murphy and state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli have some suggestions.

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"If you’re going to get together with a bigger group, and I beg you not to do that, please do it only outside where social distancing can be better ensured so you can better protect your loved ones from this deadly virus," Murphy said.

Persichilli said if you do gather together with people from different households try to stay outdoors as much as possible, ask everyone to wear a mask when not eating or drinking and stay at least 6 feet apart.

“If you do host indoors, increase the ventilation by opening the windows and the doors, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation," she said.

She also recommended all hosts provide ample masks, hand sanitizer and tissues for guests, and make sure there’s plenty of soap and single use towels in the bathroom, so those attending the function can frequently wash their hands for at least 20 seconds at a time.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, director of communicable disease services for the New Jersey Health Department, said the precautions you should take inside are the same kinds of things you might do if someone was smoking cigarettes or a smelly cigar in your house.

“What can help get rid of that smell so you don’t smell it so much, well you can be further apart from them, that’s obviously a very good thing,” he said. "You can open a window. The more air that’s flowing, the more it’s blowing that smoke out, the better that’s going to be.”

A fan can help dissipate the smoke — or increase ventilation to reduce the spread of the virus.

"All those things will help, but none of those things are perfect." Lifshitz said. "The most perfect thing is not to be in the room with the smoker.”

The governor said when his family is indoors, his kids sit at a separate table.

“Ventilation matters, right, so we have our windows open," Murphy said. "It’s a little chilly, I have to admit.”

He said taking these kinds of precautions may not be the ideal way to celebrate Thanksgiving, but “let’s be safe, let’s be smart."

"It’s been a long 9 months to be sure, but we have to hold strong for just a few more," Murphy said. "Better days are coming, let there be no doubt about that, let’s make it there together with our entire New Jersey family.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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