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Province offers advice on how to celebrate holidays safely

Ford: ‘Traditions will have to be adjusted’

TORONTO – The holidays, like many things in 2020, are going to look different this year due to COVID-19.

On Nov. 25, the province offered “preliminary guidance” on how to safely celebrate this holiday season while protecting those around you.

The guidance, the government says, is based on advice from Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health for the province, and the Public Health Measures Table.

“I know there are many people looking forward to their traditional family celebrations at this time of year, but to keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“We’re asking everyone to please stick to your own household when celebrating. Avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help us stop the spread of this deadly virus. By following this public health advice, we can all have a safe and fun holiday season.”

The government is recommending that in-person celebrations should be limited to those in your household, with larger family and/or friend celebrations being held virtually, no matter where you live in the province. Those who live alone may consider celebrating with one other family.

A list of “safer” and “riskier” holiday activities was provided as part of the guidance.

Safer activities include virtual holiday gatherings, outdoor activities such as building a snowman or going on a sleighride with members of your household, distanced visits with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, attending a drive-in or drive-thru event, watching holiday movies, and donating to your favourite holiday charity or toy drive.

Riskier activities include in-person holiday gatherings or events, sleepovers with friends or people outside your household, visiting family or friends for non-essential reasons, travelling to and/or from higher transmission areas (except for essential reasons), and hosting or attending social gatherings or organized public events that do not adhere to provincial or local requirements.

The province will be launching a new holiday web page in the coming days to provide “more direct and up-to-date guidance” on how to safely plan for the holiday season.

“The holidays are a special time of the year for many people, and while we all want to spend time with family and friends, we must celebrate safely to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Ontario’s minister of health.

“With the recent news about several vaccines there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I realize that it won’t be easy, but we must continue to follow public health advice and look for new and creative ways to celebrate this year.”

Public health officials are recommending all Ontarians continue to adhere to the following public health guidelines:

  • avoid social gatherings and limit close contacts to your household or the people you live with;
  • maintain two metres of physical distancing from everyone else;
  • wear a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing may not be maintained or if wearing one is required;
  • wash your hands thoroughly and regularly;
  • stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if mild;
  • “cover your cough”;
  • get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you’ve been advised of exposure;
  • people from higher transmission regions should avoid travel to lower transmission regions, except for essential reasons; and
  • download the COVID Alert mobile app.