Celebrating Thanksgiving in the midst of a pandemic

The year has come full circle, and here we are again, it is time to break bread in celebration of our many varying traditions in Canada. Depending on our celebratory customs, this may be a time to reflect and acknowledge all of which we are thankful.

Let us continue to be thankful for some of the most valuable things we hold dear in life, family, friends, good health and wellbeing.  Let us work at creating an equitable society, free from prejudice and oppression. We have so much to be thankful for, and I hope we can focus on these things as much as possible this season!

In celebrating, the good things and recognizing the areas that we as individuals and society need to improve on, let us celebrate and reflect responsibly. One main strategy that we can all employ to ensure we keep ourselves,  friends, and family as safe as possible is by following COVID-19 precautions and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

While we may want to see this pandemic in the rear view mirror, it is time for us to remain diligent as we, in Public Health, help to manage the various variants circulating in Ontario.  While our vaccine coverage continues to climb, many of our families remain unprotected; hence, we need to adhere to Pubic Health recommendations, especially during times that we gather with friends and family.

So please, celebrate, and stay socially connected. Here are recommendations to help you do so safely:

If you are hosting a gathering, including Thanksgiving dinner, for Diwali, etc.…

You may have a gathering with people you don’t live with. However, it is important to remember that knowing someone does not reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Keep following good public health practises.

If you choose to host an in-person gathering:

•        Do not exceed the gathering limit of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
·       You should have the fewest number of people possible at your party or gathering and use outdoor spaces whenever possible.
•        Provide all the necessary supplies, including hand sanitizer, soap and water.
•        Open windows, if possible. (if an indoor celebration is planned)
•        Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
•        Ask guests to not attend if they have symptoms, even if they are mild.
•        Make a list of guests attending in case public health needs it for contact tracing.
•        Remind people of public health guidance to follow during the event.
•        If you choose to serve food or drinks at your party, you should:
Wash your hands before and frequently during preparation and serving; and;
Have everyone wash their hands before and after eating.
If you choose to attend an in-person gathering:

•        You should not attend if you have any symptoms, even if they are mild.
•        Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly throughout the event.
Consider participating virtually or not attending the event if you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease and/or exposure to COVID-19.

As we move through this season of joy and thanks, let’s continue to be kind and thoughtful of all, and reach out a helping hand to those in need, and let’s continue to make small sacrifices for a bit longer to ensure we can all enjoy a safe and happy season full of happiness and joy.

Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health