Health Unit Advises Residents To Follow Public Health Guidelines During The Holidays
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) wants this festive season to be healthy and safe for everyone celebrating during the coming days and says that no matter what your plans are, following public health safety measures will help ensure that you and your loved ones spread cheer, not COVID-19.
As the highly transmissible Omicron variant takes hold as the dominant strain in Ontario, and as transmission rates and cases of COVID-19 continue to rise locally and beyond, the province recently implemented further restrictions including reducing capacity by 50 per cent for indoor public spaces and reducing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
The health unit says it is important to remember that knowing someone does not reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19, therefore, virtual gatherings or events are still the safest way to celebrate. While some may opt to attend an organized outdoor event, please remember that while it is likely safer than an indoor event, the risk of COVID-19 spread still exists.
If you choose to host or attend an in-person gathering or event, take precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 such as physical distancing and wearing a face covering when indoors with people who are not part of your household.
In addition, the health unit recommends that:
- Individuals who are NOT fully vaccinated against COVID-19 keep gatherings to only those within their household, unless physical distancing is practised and face coverings are worn.
- Individuals who ARE fully vaccinated are advised to keep gatherings to a small number of people outside of their household. For the protection of all, preferably everyone should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
If you are hosting or attending a holiday gathering:
- Do not exceed capacity limits.
- 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.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
- Provide all the necessary supplies for your guests, including hand sanitizer, soap and water.
- Open windows, if possible.
- If you are serving food and drinks, wash your hands often while preparing and serving food and suggest all those gathered do so before and after eating.
If you are attending a gathering or staying overnight:
- Stay home if you are ill, even if your symptoms are mild.
- If you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease and/or exposure to COVID-19, consider joining virtually or not attending the event.
- Avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors.
- Wear a face covering if physical distancing is not possible.
- Wash your hands and cover your cough.
- Individuals from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or status is unknown should always practise physical distancing (2 metres) 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.
- Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms (hosts and guests) and have a plan for what to do if someone becomes ill, even with mild symptoms.
Remember, should you or one of your guests become ill, test positive or be identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, please visit SMDHU’s website for information about your next steps, including testing, contact tracing and isolation requirements.