COVID-19 in Canada: Celebrate the holidays with your household only, Ontario officials warn

Elisabetta Bianchini
·7-min read
COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

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Ontario urges people to celebrate the holiday with your household, only

The Ontario government shared guidance on how to celebrate the holidays safely, which should be limited to only people in your household.

“I know there are many people looking forward to their traditional family celebrations at this time of year, but to keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “We're asking everyone to please stick to your own household when celebrating.”

“Avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help us stop the spread of this deadly virus. By following this public health advice, we can all have a safe and fun holiday season.”

The premier urged people in the province to “shop early” and “shop local” for holiday gifts this year, to support small and medium sized businesses through this difficult time.

The province identified that “in-person holiday gatherings or events, particularly gatherings where masks or face coverings must be removed to eat or drink,” are especially risky.

When asked about why stricter measures weren’t put in place sooner, giving more time between new rules being put in place and the holidays at the end of the year, Ford said “you can always say could have, should have, would have.”

“I’m happy that we made this decision because we have to lower the numbers,” he said.

The premier also had some more forceful words for the owner of Adamson BBQ who continues to flout public health rules from the province.

“I was nice to the guy yesterday but buddy let me tell you something, you need to shut down,” Ford said. “You’re putting people’s lives in jeopardy.”

“I always try to be nice the first time but this guy is just totally ignoring public health officials. That’s how this spreads, that’s how we get out of hand like the U.S. states that are out of control right now.”

On Wednesday, Ontario reported 1,373 new COVID-19 cases, including 445 cases in Toronto, 415 in Peel and 136 in York Region.

The province confirmed 35 month death, the highest number in the second wave of this pandemic.

There are currently 523 people in Ontario hospitals, including 159 people in ICUs.

Alberta reaches 500 COVID-19 deaths

The day after announcing new restrictions across the province Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, publicly stated that she recommended a “broad range” of options, which were respectfully considered by policy makers.

“I present a range of policy options to government officials outlining what I believe is the recommended approach, and the strengths and weaknesses of any alternative,” Dr. Hinshaw explained. “The final decisions are made by cabinet.”

“As I have said in the past, I have always felt respected and listened to, and that my recommendations have been respectfully considered by policy makers.”

She recognized that the new measures are “difficult” but stressed that the province’s healthcare system is “at a tipping point” and warned that Alberta can’t go “over the edge.”

“Now more than ever, only those who live with you should be in your home,” Dr. Hinshaw said, adding that this restriction does not apply to service-based visits, such as visits from caregivers, health or child care providers, or co-parenting arrangements and shared households.

“Raising your family is not a social gathering,” she said.

Alberta has reached 500 COVID-19 deaths in the province and reported 1,265 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. About 15,600 tests completed the Alberta’s positivity rate has reached 8.1. per cent. There are currently 355 people in Alberta hospitals with COVID-19, including 71 in ICU.

Data error identified in B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, revealed on Wednesday that there was a technical error that impacted case counts, mainly in the Fraser Health area, between Nov. 17 and Nov. 24.

The full corrections will be listed on the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) site in the coming days but they do include a change in Tuesday’s newly reported COVID-19 cases, 678 cases were reported in Fraser Health instead of 443, bringing the total in the province yesterday to 706 cases.

“I know we had a dramatic increase in the daily numbers, that was a result of some of this data coming in at a different time,” Dr. Henry said.

Anyone who had a test during that time was contacted appropriately but there was a “gap” when the data came into the system at the health authority.

The province reported 738 new cases on Wednesday and 13 more COVID-19 deaths.

Dr. Henry also confirmed the province has received 131 Abbott ID NOW machines and 27,000 tests.

“We are working on how we can best deploy those machines to help us understand when outbreaks are happening, when people need to be tested rapidly in a community,” she said.

B.C. has also receive about 500,000 of the Panbio antigen tests. Dr. Henry stressed that all of these tests require a NP swab, which means a healthcare worker has to do the swab. She said these test are not as sensitive or able to pick up the virus as well as the test being used for the general population in the lab.

Dr. Henry added that they also don’t perform very well in the cold, proving to be less reliable in mobile testing labs.

New restrictions coming Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government announced additional public health measures that will come into effect on Nov. 27, and will remain in place until at least Dec. 17.

These new measures include:

  • Restaurants and licensed establishments (bars, taverns, nightclubs) are limited to seat four at a single table and tables must be two metres apart if there there are “impermeable barriers” or three metres apart if that is not the case

  • Indoor public banquets, conferences, wedding and funeral receptions in public venues will be limited to 30 people, and food or beverages cannot be present or served

  • All team/group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices are suspended, including amateur and recreational leagues for all age groups (ex. hockey, curling, racquet sports, cheerleading, dance practices in group setting, etc.)

  • Athletes and dancers 18 years of age and under may continue practicing, conditioning and skills training in groups of eight or fewer, individual groups of eight may not share a training/rehearsal surface or space and coaches /trainers are not included in the training group numbers as long as they are masked and maintain a minimum physical distance of three metres

  • All places of worship must reduce capacity to 30 people, including wedding, funeral and baptismal services, no food or drink can be present or served

  • Mandatory, non-medical mask use will be required during all indoor fitness activities, with aquatic activities the only exception

  • Mandatory, non-medical masking is also extended to all students, employees and visitors in all schools and day cares, except children between the ages of 0-2 years old, all employees and visitors in all common areas in businesses and workplaces, all residents, employees and visitors in all common areas in provincial and municipal correctional facilities

  • Large retail locations (larger than 20,000 square feet) are required to limit customer access to 50 per cent capacity or four square metres of space per person, whichever is less

The province reported 164 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 111 people now in Saskatchewan hospitals with COVID-19.

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