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Most Canadians will follow rules over holidays, fearing a January COVID surge: survey

Last Updated Dec 18, 2020 at 8:01 am PDT

Farm decorated with Christmas lights. (iStock Photo)

More Canadians appear to be getting health messages than they were at Thanksgiving, new survey finds

Survey finds older Canadians are just as likely as young ones to gather over holidays

Prairie residents more likely to plan to break COVID-19 restrictions at Christmas: survey

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — We stay apart now so that when we come together again none of us are missing: that’s the mantra Dr. Bonnie Henry has asked us to keep in our minds holiday after holiday.

With penultimate annual family gatherings just days away, a new survey from Advanis shows 56 per cent of Canadians polled plan to spend the holidays with their immediate family, only. Meanwhile, 16 per cent plan to travel despite public health orders and 37 per cent plan to break their household bubbles.

“We may be days away from the Solstice, the darkest and longest night of the year, but without a doubt, we have light ahead and we can’t let all that sacrifice that we have done together, in this past year, be all for naught,” Henry told British Columbians on Thursday, adding, “What you do makes a difference.”

Advanis surveyed more than 1,100 Canadians about their Christmas and holiday plans and found, fewer people plan to travel and gather than in October. It also found about eight-in-10 of us fear COVID-19 cases will surge in January and many plan on staying isolated for a few days after the holidays.

“Unlike at Thanksgiving, where only 17 per cent of Canadians had heard messaging about hosting a safer celebration, two-thirds of Canadians have heard messaging about safer Christmas gatherings,” says the pollster.

In Ontario, however, there is some confusion over regional-specific rules.

“Messaging in most provinces has been clear – gatherings with people outside your household are banned. But in Ontario, despite much of the province being in Red or Grey Zones, less than half of Ontarians feel that they have been clearly directed not to have Christmas gatherings,” says Lori Reiser, principal consultant at Advanis.

“Information penetration” is highest in Quebec, where 73 per cent of respondents said they’ve been exposed to public health messages about Christmastime COVID safety, while only 53 per cent said the same in the Prairies.

The Prairie provinces appear to be more “laxidasical” according to surveyors. While 28 per cent of Albertans say they will travel this month, it’s far fewer than the 88 per cent who planned to travel at Thanksgiving.

In the Prairies, however, 46 per cent (vs. 37% nationally) of people plan to attend a Christmas gathering and only one quarter of people there say they are worried about safety with many saying they have made no changes to their plans to prevent COVID-19 spread.

The survey also touches on who is most likely to take precautions, showing older Canadians are more likely to wear a mask, sit farther apart from others, and forego physical greetings.

Older Canadians are also more likely than younger Canadians to be vaccinated, with 81 per cent of those aged 60 and up planning to receive their doses when available, compared to 65 per cent of those under age 60.