Multicultural friends at home isolation celebrating online streaming live on video call while holding candles and having fun in quarantine keeping social distance

This Version Posted: November 26, 2020

Home for the holidays has extra meaning during COVID-19.

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Key Message: Stay Safe, Stay Home

Get-togethers with family and friends are normally a key part of the holiday season tradition. This year, however, the Ontario government is strongly encouraging everyone to celebrate safely and prevent the spread of COVID-19. No matter where you live in Ontario, you are asked to:

  • Limit your holiday gatherings. Avoid big holiday parties, large family dinners and similar-style festivities.
  • Only celebrate the holidays in-person with those in your immediate household. If you live alone, you can celebrate with one other household.
  • Celebrate virtually or connect by phone with other family and friends.

General Holiday Tips
  • Stay home if sick. Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 assessment tool to help determine if you need further care.
  • Avoid non-essential trips, especially to parts of Ontario with high rates of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Limit your contact to only those in your immediate household. If you live alone, you can celebrate with one other household.
  • Follow food safety tips if preparing a holiday meal for your immediate household.
  • Connect virtually with family and friends. Pick up the phone or chat via social media and/or video-conferencing. Consider using these platforms to hold a virtual holiday party/celebration. If technology is not your thing, send a card or write a letter to a loved one.
  • Look after your mental health and that of your loved ones, especially people who may be alone and feel cut off from others.
  • Avoid the “3 C’s” – closed spaces, crowded places and close faces. 
  • Practise physical distancing as much as possible. Keep a 2 metre (6-foot) distance from anyone who is outside your household.
  • Wear a mask or face covering inside public places.
  • Shop online, by telephone or using curbside pickup/delivery. Support local businesses as much as possible. If shopping in person, try to avoid crowds and pick less busy times to go.
  • Individuals living away from home (including college/university students) should consider doing a self-quarantine, or reducing close contact with others, 10 to 14 days before returning home for the holidays.
  • If you decide to visit loved ones whom you do not live with, plan to do so at an outdoor holiday gathering, being sure to practise physical distancing. The current size limit for outdoor gatherings is 25 people.
  • If you still plan to host a gathering with others outside your household, ensure you take full precautions to prevent COVID-19.
  • If you plan to attend a gathering with others outside your household:
    • Do not attend if sick. Stay home instead.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after attending a gathering.
    • Check ahead with the host to see what COVID-19 preventive measures are in place.
    • Wave and greet others verbally. Do NOT hug, kiss or shake hands.
    • Practise physical distancing.
    • Wear a mask or face covering if visiting with others outside your household.

Safer Ways to Have Holiday Fun

Stay safe and have fun this holiday season. Try the following:

  • Build a snowman or go on a sleigh ride with people you live with. You can also attend other outdoor holiday activities, ensuring you maintain physical distancing.
  • Drive around local neighbourhoods to look at holiday lights.
  • Watch holiday or winter movies with the people you live with at home.
  • Decorate and put up lights outside and around your home.
  • Bake holiday treats together as a family. Try assembling a gingerbread house.
  • Donate to your favourite holiday charity or toy drive.
  • Send cards or gifts in the mail.
  • Organize a virtual carol singing with friends and family. In-person carolling is not recommended as it can put you at high risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Stop, drop and go. If buying a gift for a friend or loved one, drop gifts off on their porch or doorway to avoid gatherings.

If You Still Decide to Host a Holiday Gathering/Party

To slow the spread of COVID-19, you are strongly advised to connect virtually or by phone with anyone outside your immediate household. This is important with COVID-19 cases on the rise in Ontario.

If you still decide to host a gathering, be aware that the current size restriction for private indoor social gatherings is no more than 10 people. You could face fines for hosting a party that breaks this limit.

Follow that and these additional safety tips to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for you and your guests:

  • Ensure guests stay home if sick. Consider keeping a list of guests who attend for potential future COVID-19 contact tracing needs.
  • When entertaining, allow for physical distancing for your guests. Allow people to safely maintain a 2 metre (6 foot) distance, especially if they are outside your household.
  • Be upfront with your guests about the COVID-19 prevention measures you’re taking so they know what to expect before they arrive.
  • When possible, host your gathering outdoors. In colder weather months, go indoors but try to ensure the room or space is well-ventilated (e.g. open a window).
  • Arrange tables and chairs in advance to allow for physical distancing (if already set up, guests may be reluctant to move them).
  • People from the same household can be grouped/seated together, but should be 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other families.
  • When guests arrive, minimize gestures that promote close contact between those outside households. No kissing or hugging, for instance.
  • Encourage guests to wear masks when physical distancing is difficult. Consider providing masks for guests or ask them to bring their own.
  • Ensure there is enough soap and hand sanitizer for people to use during the gathering.
  • Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
  • Limit the number of people handling or serving food (including limiting access to where food is being prepared, such as the kitchen).
  • Avoid buffet-style meals. If serving any food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils
  • Limit contact with high-touch surfaces or shared items. If possible, clean and disinfect these surfaces and shared items between uses.
  • If you choose to use any shared items that are reusable (e.g. seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash, clean, and sanitize them after the event.
Additional Resources