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Ontario releases details on how to stay safe this Thanksgiving and Halloween

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No need for masks at indoor gatherings under 25 people if everyone is vaccinated

Today, the Government of Ontario released all of its recommendations for safely celebrating seasonal events throughout the fall. Although, more than 86% of Ontarians now fully vaccinated, Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer presented information today on how to celebrate safely, while the province’s COVID case numbers remain steady between five and six hundred.

Despite the cautiously optimistic numbers, the province’s top doctor encouraged Ontairans to do their best to keep gatherings to the smallest possible number of people and follow the rules for stage 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen. That means indoor gatherings are capped at a limit of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Moore also advised that when hosting gatherings try to be outside as much as possible and keep all the rooms well ventilated with windows open, a notion that is actually plausible at the moment with the weather looking more like late summer temperatures than chilly fall. Also, recommended is to keep high touch surfaces cleansed and hand sanitizer readily available.

For Trick or Treaters, Dr. Kieran Moore says be creative and build the face covering into your costume and to remember that a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering. He also advises trick or treaters to take turns one at a time and that they do not sing or shout for your treats.

In general, the Province says, of course virtual gatherings or events are still the safest way to celebrate, especially if people in the group are unvaccinated or if their vaccination status is unknown and that gatherings or events outdoors are safer than indoors. Public Health reiterates that the fewer people who gather, the lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Although it should go without saying but Dr. Kieran Moore also reinforced at the COVID update news conference today that, “No one should attend Thanksgiving or other social gatherings if they are sick.” Moore said, “Even if people have mild symptoms, please stay home and get tested.”

But for those who will be gathering indoors over Thanksgiving with family and friends, the Province says that masks are not a requirement if everyone attending has been vaccinated. However, they also say “with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or status is unknown, you should wear a face covering and physically distance.”

With all of that being said, here are the official recommendations from the Government of Ontario for celebrating Thanksgiving, Halloween, Remembrance Day and other events this fall.

Hosting indoor and outdoor events over Thanksgiving

As part of your celebrations, you may have a gathering with people you don’t live with. However, it is important to continue following good public health practices.

If you choose to host an in-person gathering:

  • do not exceed the gathering limit of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
  • have the fewest number of people possible at your gathering
  • use outdoor spaces whenever possible
  • provide all the necessary supplies, including hand sanitizer, soap and water
  • open windows, if possible
  • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • ask guests not to attend if they have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • make a list of guests attending in case your local public health unit needs it for contact tracing
  • remind people of public health advice to follow during the event
  • wash your hands before and frequently when preparing and serving food
  • 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 or exposure to COVID-19covid 19

When to wear face coverings

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 may consider removing 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
photo – Government of Ontario

Recognizing Remembrance Day

If attending a Remembrance Day memorial event:

  • stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • wear a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained or is required
  • wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently
  • consider participating virtually or not attending the event if you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease and/or exposure to COVID-19covid 19

If you chose to sell poppies in-person:

  • wear a face covering
  • have hand sanitizer and use it regularly
  • consider not selling if you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease and/or exposure to COVID-19

Celebrating Halloween

If you trick-or-treat door-to-door:

  • stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • trick-or-treat outdoors as much as possible
  • be creative and build the face covering into your costume. Remember that a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering. A costume mask should not be worn over a non-medical mask or face covering because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.
  • do not crowd doorsteps – take turns one at a time
  • do not sing or shout for your treats
  • keep interactions brief with those giving out treats
  • use hand sanitizer often, especially before and after handling your face covering, after touching frequently touched surfaces, when you arrive home from trick-or-treating, and before and after handling or eating treats
  • there is no need to clean or disinfect pre-packaged treats

If trick-or-treating indoors, maintain physical distancing as much as possible and wear a face covering, especially when physical distancing is a challenge.

If you choose to give out treats:

  • do not participate in Halloween festivities if you have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • keep interactions with trick-or-treaters short and encourage them to move along after receiving their treat from you
  • consider wearing a face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • consider including the face covering as part of your costume if you are dressing up
  • give out only purchased and packaged treats
  • do not ask trick-or-treaters to sing or shout for their treats
  • clean your hands often throughout the evening using soap and water or with hand sanitizer

SOURCE Government of Ontario

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