Ontario’s top doctor urges people to take a cautious approach this holiday season

TORONTO – With the holiday season approaching, the provincial government has released COVID-19 guidelines for those planning to celebrate.

In a Nov. 25 provincial announcement, Ontario’s top doctor, Dr. Kieran Moore, urged people to be wary as they make plans for the holidays.

“As families are booking vaccine appointments and making plans to get their children immunized, I know that the winter break and holiday planning are also underway,” Moore said in his opening address.

As case COVID-19 counts continue to rise, he encouraged residents to continue to practice public health measures like masking, distancing and proper hand hygiene.

“Wherever you’re planning on spending the holiday period and the new year, please do so safely,” he urged.

“We are seeing the expected increase in cases, and we do anticipate that they will continue to rise over the holiday period.”

In the announcement, Dr. Moore also reminded those hosting or attending social gatherings there is still a limit of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, encouraging residents to use outdoor spaces whenever possible and if it’s too cold, to ensure the indoor setting is well ventilated.

“Always wear your mask when required, even if it isn’t required you should wear one in private indoor spaces if those around you are from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown,” he advised.

For those planning to travel, Dr. Moore strongly recommended they be fully vaccinated and emphasized people experiencing symptoms, even if mild, should stay home.

“If you are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, you should avoid non-essential travel to all destinations,” he stated.

“Regardless of vaccination status, if you choose to travel please practice personal public health measures – the very basic common measures of masking, distancing, hand hygiene while away and upon your return.”

He noted if a traveller is experiencing symptoms upon return, even if mild, they should get tested and stay home until they have the results.

Individuals planning to travel internationally must adhere to the rules and regulations outlined by the federal government.

Visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus

For children hoping to visit with Santa in person, the province is advising it’s safer to see him outdoors or consider visiting with him virtually.

Recommendations also include:

  • stay home if feeling ill, even with mild symptoms;
  • wear a face covering indoors, including when a photo is being taken. Santa’s face covering should fit well over his beard; and
  • line up two metres apart from members of other households if waiting.

The province notes if you are planning on organizing an in-person event to meet with Santa, Mrs. Claus or the elves, compliance with all organized public event gathering limits, public health measures and all other provincial and local restrictions is required.

The province also recommends people maintain physical distancing and wear a face covering when exchanging gifts with individuals from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or status is unknown, and reminds people to wash their hands after handling or opening gifts.

“This pandemic is certainly not over,” Dr. Moore reiterated. “But by getting the first, second or third does of the COVID-19 vaccine and by consistently following those public health measures that we know work, we can reduce the risk of transmission and have a happy and healthy festive season.”

For a full list of guidelines, visit ontario.ca.