Safety Tips for Celebrating the Holiday Season

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2020 has been a weird year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us have to switch the way we celebrate holidays. While some people went back home, lots of people stayed here in London for their Thanksgiving festivities. Lots of people didn’t go trick-or-treating. But what about as we head into the holiday season? What are some tips to keep us safe during this festive time?

The provincial government recently released its guidelines on how you should spend your holidays. Some of the safe things to do this season are to attend virtual holiday gatherings with friends, family and co-workers. Another safe thing you can do this holiday season is outdoor holiday activities such as building a snowman or going on a sleigh ride with members of your household.

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It is also safe to go out to a drive-in or drive-through event, watch movies with anyone from your household. Decorating your house with lights, baking holiday treats for your household, and donating a toy to a local toy drive are just some of the fun activities students can do that will be safe this holiday season.

But there are many things that aren’t safe this holiday season. Some high-risk activities could include having in-person gatherings that include masks or face coverings having to be removed to eat and drink, as well as indoor holiday activities like having overnight guests not from your household. Sitting on Santa’s lap this year is not permitted, and the normal social gathering rules still imply.

At the time of writing, London and area is in the “Orange” level of the government’s COVID-19 response. That means that there is targeted enforcement and fines will be given out if you hold a gathering. In the last few weeks, we have seen fines issued to hosts for throwing parties that exceeded provincial limits for indoor gatherings, including a 100-person gathering on Mill Street, which had three 18 and 19-year-olds charged under the Reopening Ontario Act.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has also advised that any and all gatherings be conducted in a virtual way, adding that having people from multiple families gather gives the virus opportunities to spread. Local Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Chris Mackie, said in a press release that “the last thing we need now are super-spreader events dressed as Holiday traditions.”

The Health Unit is also advising students wanting to go home for the holidays to start limiting close contacts for the next 14 days before going out to limit any potential of becoming ill before travel. Once returned back in London, they also advise students to limit their close contacts for the next 14 days again.

I know this all sucks. COVID-19 is still here and causing so much stress and sacrifice for all of us. But we need to all be safe this holiday season. London so far hasn’t had a significant level of COVID-19. However, we are starting to see a surge in cases. At the time of writing, University Hospital has seen 13 deaths and over 100 COVID-19 cases linked. We all need to be careful this holiday season. Do your part this holiday and celebrate it safely.