This time last year, the province had started to climb the slope of what ended up being the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. One year later, with much of the province being vaccinated, the advice is starkly different. Heading into the Thanksgiving long weekend, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore is telling Ontarians that it’s okay to enjoy some of the usual festivities, but to take caution while doing so.
At a media briefing on Thursday afternoon, Moore said that it should be okay for people to get together again over the holiday so long as they observe the province’s rules for gatherings, a maximum of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. If your group is vaccinated, Moore said, then it should be safe to gather indoors unmasked, but if the are members who are unvaccinated, like children under 12, then you should take additional precautions.
“If you are gathering indoors with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, or their vaccination status is unknown, please consider wearing a face covering if physical distancing cannot be maintained,” Moore said. “The fewer people who gather, the lower the risk of transmission. Outdoor gatherings are always safer.”
Moore also recommended open windows to improve air flow and cleaning high touch surfaces thoroughly. At the same time, if you’re feeling sick, or if you’re showing potential symptoms of COVID-19, Moore is recommending that you skip Thanksgiving dinner with a crowd, self-isolate and get a COVID-19 test.
That’s also good advice for Halloween, a subject on which Dr. Moore also offered some professional medical advice.
“Trick or Treating should take place outdoors as much as possible. Be creative, fashion a face covering into your Halloween costume design, but remember a costume mask is no substitute for a proper face covering,” Moore said. “Do not overcrowd the doorsteps, take turns and keep interactions brief. Maintain physical distancing as much as possible.”
And to anyone that’s outgrown the tradition of going door-to-door for candy? “For the slightly older trick-or-treaters who might be considering attending or throwing a Halloween party, all the guidance that I had previously outlined for Thanksgiving, and other social gatherings applies to you too,” Moore added.
Of course, being vaccinated is the easiest way to prevent the spread of the virus, or the development of serious symptoms, and in Ontario, more than 81 per cent of the eligible population, people born in 2009 or before, have been fully vaccinated while around 85 per cent have received one dose of a vaccine.