How to stay safe this season

Throughout the fall and winter, many Ontarians will be celebrating religious or seasonal holidays and gatherings with loved ones.

As a reminder:

  • covid 19 vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to help protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the spread of covid 19. Take the time this holiday season to get your first or second dose of the vaccine if you haven’t already, or your booster dose if eligible.
  • wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer regularly, especially after opening gifts or before preparing, serving and eating food
  • stay home if you are sick, even if your symptoms are mild
  • cover your cough.
  • get tested if:
    • you have symptoms of covid 19
    • you’ve been identified as a high-risk close contact of a known covid 19 case by your local public health unit

These events and gatherings have the potential to increase the risk of covid 19 transmission, especially for those who are at high-risk of severe disease and/or exposure to covid 19.

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An adult wrapping presents

Hosting indoor and outdoor social gatherings

Ensure you are celebrating with family and loved ones safely.

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 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

We encourage organizers of these events to collect and maintain a list of staff, volunteers and contractors and also to pre-register parade participants to support covid 19 contact tracing.

Exchanging gifts

  • Maintain physical distancing of two metres and wear a face covering when exchanging gifts with individuals from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or status is unknown.
  • Wash your hands after handling or opening gifts.

When to wear face coverings

Even if fully vaccinated, Ontarians must wear a face covering and physically distance when it is required, including at indoor organized public events and in indoor public spaces (with limited exceptions).

Regardless of where you are, you can wear a face covering and physically distance if you feel it is right for you, especially if you or others are immunocompromised or at high-risk of severe disease or exposure to covid 19covid 19. 

Indoors

When gathering indoors:

  • with a group of fully vaccinated individuals, you can remove your face covering if everyone is comfortable
  • with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or status is unknown, you should wear a face covering and physically distance

Outdoors

When gathering outdoors:

  • with a group of fully vaccinated individuals, no face covering or physical distancing is necessary
  • with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or vaccination status is unknown, you should consider wearing a face covering if physical distancing cannot be maintained
 

Holiday travel and overnight stays

If you are considering travel and/or an overnight stay:

  • ensure you adhere to provincial restrictions on organized public events and social gatherings (local restrictions may also apply)
  • consider whether you, someone you live with or anyone you plan to visit with is at higher risk for severe illness from covid 19, to determine whether to stay overnight in the same residence or to stay elsewhere
  • consider and prepare for what you will do if you or someone else becomes ill during the visit, even with mild symptoms, including creating plans for self-isolation, health care and travel home

Domestic and international travel

Individuals who decide to travel internationally must follow all rules and regulations outlined by the federal government.

Those who decide to travel are advised to be fully vaccinated before doing so, while those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated should avoid non-essential travel to all destinations.

Regardless of vaccination status, those who travel should practice personal public health measures while away and upon their return.

This includes:

  • wearing a mask or face-covering, physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying outdoors as much as possible to reduce risk of contracting covid 19
  • travellers should stay informed about the covid 19 situation at their destination and follow all local covid 19 restrictions
  • if any traveller is symptomatic upon return, even with mild symptoms, they should get tested and stay at home

If you stay at another home overnight or host overnight guests:

  • practice hand hygiene frequently
  • individuals from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or status is unknown should practice physical distancing (two metres at all times) and wear face coverings
  • hosts and guests from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or status is unknown should not sleep in the same bedroom and should use separate washrooms, if possible
  • spend time together outdoors
  • have a plan for what to do if someone becomes ill, even with mild symptoms

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.

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a happy child setting up Christmas light

Related

Updated: November 25, 2021
Published: October 19, 2020