Holiday guidelines from WECHU and provincial health officials
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and the provincial government have released recommendations for having a safe holiday season while still in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health unit CEO Nicole Dupuis says she understands individuals want to get together with their family, but they must remain vigilant with public health guidelines.
"It's been a very inconvenient couple of years, but thinking really carefully about all of the activity and those choices related to it," says Dupuis.
Dupuis says it’s a good idea to screen guests before gatherings.
"If you're having an indoor special gathering, if possible, limit it to those that are fully vaccinated because we know that that will significantly reduce the risk, but also screening," she says. "Certainly just reminding anyone not to ignore symptoms."
Dupuis adds anyone who is feeling sick, should stay home.
"If individuals are sick in any way or they have a sniffle, etc., the best choice for you to stay home and skip that event," she says. "So that's one message for sure that we want to make sure that individuals don't forget as well as thinking about the number of gatherings, parties etc. that you're involved with."
The Ontario government also released a set of guidelines of how to celebrate safely during COVID-19:
Indoor social gatherings
- If you choose to host or attend an indoor social gathering, such as a gift exchange or holiday party:
- do not exceed the indoor social gathering limit of 25 people
- use outdoor spaces where possible
- ensure supplies such as hand sanitizer and soap are available
- open windows, if possible
- clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
- ask guests not to attend if they have symptoms, even if they are mild
- consider participating virtually or not attending the event if you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease and/or exposure to COVID
- consider creating a list of guests attending a gathering in case your local public health unit needs it forcontact tracing
- wear a face covering and physically distance if individuals in attendance are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown
- If you choose to hold or attend a New Years Eve party or other festive events at a business or your workplace, then:
- you must follow the applicable provincial restrictions for that setting, such as rules for restaurants, bars or meeting and event spaces. Local restrictions may also apply.
- follow the advice and guidance outlined in the hosting social gatherings section above
- workplaces should choose venues with sufficient space for physical distancing
Outdoor social gatherings
- If you choose to host or attend outdoor social gatherings
- do not exceed the outdoor social gathering limit of 100 people
- wear a face covering if required, or if physical distancing cannot be maintained and the vaccination status of individuals in attendance is unknown
- avoid high-touch surfaces and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly or use hand sanitizer
- if you are singing or shouting, wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing, where possible
- If you choose to hold or attend outdoor organized public events, including parades, memorial ceremonies and other events (such as lighting ceremonies), remember:
- while outdoor settings are safer than indoor ones, the risk of COVID-19covid 19 transmission is not eliminated
- if you plan on attending any outdoor organized public events you should:
- avoid crowds as much as possible and maintain a physical distance of two metres from others who are not from your household (and vaccination status is unknown)
- individuals performing in parades should be fully vaccinated and wear face coverings if physically distancing is not possible
Visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus
If you do choose to see Santa in-person, it is safer to see him outdoors than indoors. You can also consider visiting with him virtually.
In either case:
- stay home if you are feeling ill, even if you have mild symptoms
- wear a face covering indoors, including when a photo is being taken. Santa’s face covering should fit well over his beard
- line up two metres apart from members of other households if waiting
- If you are planning on organizing an in-person event to meet with Santa, Mrs. Claus or the elves, you are required to comply with all organized public event gathering limits, public health measures and all other provincial and local restrictions.