Plan for safer holiday celebrations

As the second wave progresses, Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) advises residents to plan for safer holiday celebrations.

“This year has not been easy, and we have all - including myself and public health staff - had to find new ways to connect with our families and friends,” says Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health. “Right now we must be vigilant about connecting safely over the holidays so we can protect our family, friends and community and flatten the curve of this second wave.”

Public events

Huron and Perth municipalities, businesses, service clubs and places of worship have been working with HPPH to plan holiday events that will bring joy and also keep the community as safe as possible.

HPPH thanks all of these groups for their creativity and responsibility in planning holiday events and asks the public to please respect all rules that groups have put in place. Remember that if you are not feeling well, do not attend an event.

Travel and private gatherings

Virtual gatherings or events are the safest way to celebrate the holiday with people outside your household. It is strongly recommended to allow close contact only with people living in your own household. People who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one additional household to help reduce feelings of isolation and negative mental health impacts.

Plan ways to connect with family and friends:

  • Call or video chats
  • Online celebrations or dinner parties
  • Write letters or send cards
  • Contactless delivery of gifts or treats

Individuals and families in higher transmission areas should avoid travel to lower transmission areas (e.g., from Red to Orange, from Yellow to Green) except for essential reasons.

Individuals living away from home, including those studying at colleges and universities, should consider doing a self-quarantine, or reducing close contact with others, 14 days before returning home for the holidays. Limit close contact to one household once you are home.

Individuals unable to reduce close contact with others before returning home, should limit close contact with others, especially seniors and individuals who are immuno-compromised or have underlying medical conditions.

The province has set gathering limits depending on which level of public health measures a region is at. Visit www.hpph.ca/coronavirus for current gathering limits.

If you have a gathering with people you do not live with physical distancing of two (2) metres must be maintained. The fewer people you have, the lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Testing for COVID prior to attending a gathering is not recommended. A negative result on a COVID test only tells you that you did not have COVID at the time you were tested. You may become infected between the time you took the test and when you received your result or in the days afterwards. Please refer to Ontario's testing information at Ontario.ca/coronavirus to see who is eligible for a COVID test through assessment centres or participating community labs.

It’s most important to follow ALL the public health measures, including staying home if you are sick, washing your hands, wearing a face covering, and practicing physical distancing.

Safer ways to celebrate the holiday season include:

  • Participate in virtual activities and parties.
  • Watching holiday or other movies.
  • Decorating doors, putting up lights, etc.
  • Donating to your favourite charity or toy drive.
  • Attending a drive-in or drive-through event.

If you choose to volunteer this season, review and adhere to the precautions that will be in place to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Taking care of mental health

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. This year you may experience:

  • worry about finances and gift-giving
  • sadness about breaking important family traditions or being away from loved ones
  • fear of getting sick with COVID-19 or of making others sick
  • family conflict if family members have different attitudes about risks

Those who are struggling with their mental health or well being should contact their healthcare provider or call Huron Perth Helpline at 1-888-829-7484. Additional information on mental health support is also available at www.hpph.ca

“The holidays are a time of kindness,” says Dr. Klassen. “On behalf of Huron Perth Public Health, I thank you all for the kindness and resilience you have shown during this difficult year and I wish you and your loved ones safe, happy and healthy holidays.”

For information about COVID-19 precautions during the holiday season: