The holidays are going to look a little different this year due to COVID-19. To support Ontarians as they begin to safely plan for the season, the Ontario government, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and input from the Public Health Measures Table, is providing preliminary guidance on how to safely celebrate this year and protect your loved ones.
Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“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 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.”
No matter where you live in the province, the safest way to spend the holidays this year is by only celebrating in person with the people you live with and celebrating virtually with everyone else. If you live alone, consider exclusively celebrating with one additional household as a safe way to spend the holidays.
While public health measures to keep Ontarians safe may be different in communities across the province, the following is some general advice to consider when planning your holiday season:
Safer Holiday Activities:
- Virtual holiday gatherings or events with family, friends or co-workers
- Outdoor holiday activities such as building a snowman or going on a sleigh ride with members of your household.
- Visiting Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus or their elves outdoors and taking photos while keeping two metres apart.
- Attending a drive-in or drive-through event.
- Watching holiday or other movies with your household.
- Decorating your doors and putting up lights around your home.
- Lighting your menorah.
- Baking holiday treats with your immediate household.
- Donating to your favourite holiday charity or toy drive.
Riskier Holiday Activities:
- In-person holiday gatherings or events, particularly gatherings where masks or face coverings must be removed to eat or drink.
- Indoor holiday activities such as having overnight guests or sleepovers with friends or people outside your household.
- Visiting Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus or their elves indoors and taking photos without being two metres apart. Children are not permitted to sit on Santa’s lap this year.
- Visiting family and friends for non-essential reasons.
- Individuals and families in higher transmission areas should avoid going to lower transmission areas, except for essential reasons.
- Hosting or attending social gatherings or organized public events that do not adhere to provincial or local requirements. See below for information about the gathering limits that apply in the various zones.
While the above is recommended advice from public health officials, please remember you must adhere to public health and workplace safety measures and rules in your region. A new holiday web page will be launched shortly to provide more direct and up-to-date guidance on how individuals and families can plan for a safe 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 Minister Elliott. “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.”