VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As many people across the country begin putting together smaller holiday plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some jurisdictions are taking more of a harm reduction approach, acknowledging not everyone will follow public health guidelines not to travel.
While it is urging people to follow the rules, Ottawa Public Health is trying to be heard by all Ottawa-area residents, noting there are people who will choose to ignore the rules over the holidays and see family and friends regardless of the circumstances.
Interesting approach from Ottawa Public Health, talking about "harm reduction" for those who will be breaking the rules over the holidays. https://t.co/ccvvhWIgfc
— Mike Lloyd (@llikemoyd) December 8, 2020
“This holiday season we’re strongly advising that you only gather in person with members of your household. If you live alone, 1-2 close supports are ok,” the authority says in a tweet.
“We know some of you may choose to gather w/family (sic) from outside your household & some of you may travel. Don’t do that,” it adds in the Twitter thread opting to bring a little levity to the conversation.
“But if you do, we can’t stress enough how vital it is that you be as safe as possible. Wear masks at all times (preferably w/3 (sic) layers). Remain outdoors when possible. And please consider those who may be at higher risk in your family and make good choices to protect them.”
But if you do, we can't stress enough how vital it is that you be as safe as possible. Wear masks at all times (preferably w/3 layers). Remain outdoors when possible.
And please consider those who may be at higher risk in your family and make good choices to protect them. (7/13)
— Ottawa Public Health (@ottawahealth) December 4, 2020
Extension of COVID-19 measures in B.C.
The messaging comes at a difficult time for many Canadians who are now weighing the options of risking it and visiting loved ones or following public health pleas to stay home.
On Monday, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Doctor Bonnie Henry announced an extension of COVID-19 restrictions on gathering and visiting through the holidays, but not everyone plans to follow the rules.
Discussions over the extended restrictions have dominated some community groups and online threads.
Comments on stories about the restriction have been mixed online, with some applauding the province’s move to carry orders over to the new year and others expressing their anger over the decision.
“It will stop my family. We will follow the rules as well to get through this,” one Facebook user writes.
“Half the province will go to jail this xmas (sic). No one will obey these ridiculous draconian illegitimate rules,” reads another online comment.
Others are furious with those ignoring the rules when so many people are making sacrifices, and yet there are still some who are unclear about what’s allowed and what’s not.
As part of the extension of measures, British Columbians should not be gathering indoors with people outside their immediate households over the holidays. Some exceptions apply, for example if a person lives alone, they may have one or two people they can see socially.
*NOTE: Orders restricting ALL social gatherings to your immediate household have been extended to midnight January 8th, but drive-thru or drive-in drop off events are allowed for maximum 50 cars containing members of ONE household. #bcpoli @NEWS1130 https://t.co/EvXThNSAZ5
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) December 8, 2020
Measures will remain in place until at least Jan. 8, 2021.
Henry is pleading with everyone to avoid all non-essential travel, even between communities. There is no official ban on travel at the moment.
On Monday, a poll from the Angus Reid Institute found that many people were still planning to visit with friends and family — even travel to see them — over the holiday season.
While a majority of respondents said they would be planning a “more solitary” Christmas, about three-in-10 said they planned to visit people outside their households.
-With files from Kathryn Tindale