Winter Activities and COVID-19

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures.

Exercise is one of the reasons people can go out. If you are taking part in outdoor activities, try to find trails or rinks near your home and follow all public health measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

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In General
  • Do not go out if you are feeling sick. Stay home instead and use Ontario’s online COVID-19 Assessment Tool for further direction.
  • Stay close to home by accessing nearby trails, hills and parks . Avoid all non-essential travel.
  • Follow COVID-19 guidelines, especially practising physical distancing.
  • NEW: Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres from others outside your household. 
  • If possible, only do outdoor activities with people in your immediate family/household. If you are out with others, ensure you stay 2 metres apart.
  • The new limit on outdoor gatherings is no more than five people.
  • Obey any municipal gathering limits that may be in place at the hill, rink or trail that you use. It’s always important to keep apart from others outside your immediate household.
  • Wear appropriate helmets and safety gear.
  • Dress in layers to stay warm. Layer up based on the current weather conditions.
  • Download the free ParticipACTION app to access resources/suggestions on how to be active in the winter months.
Outdoor Skating
  • Follow all COVID-19 guidelines and directions when using a municipally-run outdoor skating rink. For municipalities, the following COVID-19 Guidance for Outdoor Ice Surface/Rinks and Outdoor Skating Trails is provided for your use.
  • For your own outdoor rink:
    • During the state of emergency, only allow members of your immediate family/household to use it.
    • Wear proper-fitting helmets when skating. Do not share equipment.
Tobogganing
  • Tobogganing is allowed, but only in areas and on hills where it is permitted. Avoid doing any risky manoeuvres such as sliding down the hill head-first.
  • Only toboggan with those in your immediate family or household.
  • Ensure you practise physical distancing at the tobogganing hill by staying at least 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others (excluding those in your own household)
  • If the tobogganing hill is too busy to maintain physical distancing, come back at another time when there are less people there.
Skiing
  • Cross-country skiing is allowed on designated trails. It’s best to only cross-country ski with people in your own immediate family or household. Try to pick trails close to your home.
  • Ensure you stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others outside your immediate household.
  • Wear proper helmet and safety gear.
  • Do not linger or socialize in parking lots.
  • Under the provincial COVID-19 shutdown, ski hills are closed.
Snowmobiling
  • Do NOT travel to places outside your region. Only use designated and available snowmobiling trails in your area. Visit the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) website for more trail information and openings.
  • Wear proper helmet and safety gear.
  • Ideally, only snowmobile with members of your immediate family/household.
  • If traveling in groups with people outside your household, practise physical distancing by staying at least 2 metres apart. Do not share food with each other and do not congregate on trails. Remember that the current limit on outdoor gatherings is only five people (failure to follow this could lead to fines).
  • Follow OFSC Ride Smart 2021 protocols to stay safe during COVID-19.
  • Plan ahead. Be aware that food may not be readily available during provincial COVID-19 shutdown. There may also be no places to warm up or use washrooms during your day.
Snowshoeing
  • Snowshoeing is allowed, but try sticking close to home. Go snowshoeing in your backyard or use parks/trails near your home.
  • Follow all COVID-19 guidelines that may be posted for trail use.
  • Limit snowshoeing with only those in your immediate family or household.
  • Practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others (except those in your immediate household)
Winter Trail Use
  • Follow guidelines for trail use.
  • Only use trails with people in your immediate family or household.
  • Do not gather in groups on the trail
  • Do not linger or socialize in parking lots
  • Maintain a 2-metre physical distance from other trail users.
Ice Fishing
  • Ice fishing is still allowed.
  • Rentals of ice huts is permitted. Ice huts should be large enough to allow for physical distancing.
  • Anyone renting ice huts needs to be screened for COVID-19 beforehand and provide contact information (in case contact tracing is needed).
  • Ice huts must only be used by members of a single household, and cannot be used overnight.
  • Any rental equipment (fishing rods) must be properly cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  • Maximum outdoor gathering limit is 5 people under the current State of Emergency. 
  • NEW: It’s now recommended that masks or face coverings be worn outdoors if you can’t maintain physical distancing.
Parks and Playgrounds
  • Stick to parks and playgrounds near your home.
  • While parks and playgrounds are allowed to open during the provincial COVID-19 state of emergency, please check with your local municipality to see if you can still access them.
  • Ensure you practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others (except those in your immediate household).

Apartments and Multi-Unit Dwellings

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures.

If you own or manage a multi-unit building, it’s important to protect your tenants from COVID-19. Proper screening, cleaning, physical distancing and other measures are essential to reduce the spread of illness. Here’s what you need to do:

Screening

Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Increase cleaning and disinfecting, especially in common areas. High-touch surfaces (like doorknobs, light switches, phones, elevator buttons, stairwells, shared washrooms and garbage facilities) should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice per day, and when visibly dirty.
  • Be careful when handling waste, and ensure you wash hands thoroughly afterwards with soap and running water. Line garbage cans with plastic bags if possible and avoid direct contact with soiled items in the garbage
  • For Shared Laundry Rooms: Both sick and healthy households need to use laundry rooms to wash dirty laundry.  Clean and disinfect the machine controls frequently.  You may also need to put up limits to the number of people in the laundry room at a time, to ensure physical distancing. Put up this poster for tips on using shared laundry facilities.

Mask Use

  • The Ontario government is now mandating that face coverings/non-medical masks MUST be worn in common areas, hallways, lobbies, etc. when you cannot keep 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others.

Physical Distancing

  • Promote physical distancing in your building. Urge people to keep 2 metres (6 feet) apart – roughly the length of a hockey stick. Put up this poster in all common areas to send a clear message.
  • Put in place measures at your building to reinforce physical distancing. Stagger times to use laundry facilities, limit the number of people gathering in shared spaces, and move furnishings like chairs further apart to create more space.  
  • Limit capacity on elevators to ensure physical distancing. Post a sign indicating no more than two or three people should use the elevator at once. 

What to do If Tenants/Residents Show COVID-19 Symptoms

  • Individuals in a private unit who show COVID-19 symptoms MUST self-isolate for the required period and not leave home, unless they need medical care. If possible, check in with them by phone, email or text. Offer to get food/supplies and leave items at their doorway, ensuring no close contact.
  • If someone with COVID-19 symptoms lives in a shared space, support them to safely self-isolate by ensuring they stay in a separate room, use a separate washroom (if possible) and keep a 2 metre distance from others. If this isn’t possible, review this link 
  • If someone experiences severe COVID-19 symptoms, seek immediate medical care. 
  • Be a good neighbour. Check in on people who may need assistance with getting groceries if they are self isolating. This reduces the need for them to leave their apartment.

Holidays, Family Gatherings and Celebrations

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures.

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Key Message: Stay Safe, Stay Home

While get-togethers with family and friends for special holidays or celebrations are not unusual, you are being asked to put these festivities on hold during the provincial State of Emergency. No matter where you live in Ontario, you must:

  • Avoid all unnecessary travel in and outside Ontario.
  • Avoid gatherings for holidays or special celebrations.
  • Only celebrate 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. Do not attend/organize big parties, large family dinners and similar-style festivities. These are not allowed under the province-wide COVID-19 shutdown.

General Tips for Holidays, Celebrations and Family Gatherings
  • Stay home if sick. Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 assessment tool to help determine if you need further care.
  • Avoid non-essential trips to any other part of Ontario.
  • 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 meal for your immediate household.
  • Do NOT visit visit loved ones whom you do not live. Instead, 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. Ensure face coverings are tightly fitted to cover the nose, mouth and chin (scarves and bandanas are insufficient). NEW: Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres from others outside your household. 
  • Shop online, by telephone or use curbside pickup/delivery. Support local businesses as much as possible. Please note that many businesses will be operating differently (or temporarily closed) due to Ontario’s State of Emergency.

Mental Health and COVID-19

COVID-19 can feel overwhelming. While it’s important to reduce the risk of the virus, you also need to look after your mental health at this time. Here’s what to do: 

  • Maintain routines as you’re able, keeping in mind the importance to take precautions such as physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • While you’re encouraged to only have close contact with others in your immediate household, stay connected with family and friends through phone, social media or video-conferencing.
  • Seek professional help. If you’re overwhelmed, talk by phone to a health professional or counsellor. If you have coverage for a counsellor through work, access your Employee and Family Assistance Plan.  
  • Eat well 
  • Stay active: Doing fun and healthy activities outdoors makes it easier to keep physical distance.  
  • Get enough sleep 
  • Look back at challenging situations and see how you successfully coped with them 
  • Limit your daily dose of COVID-19-related news to reduce anxiety and worry. Fight fear with facts about the pandemic by turning to credible sources of information. 

Supporting Others 

  • COVID-19 affects everyone, so be kind to others – regardless of gender, ethnicity, income or age. 
  • Reduce stigma. Use supportive language like: “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”. Don’t define others  just because they’re affected by the coronavirus.   
  • Be neighbourly and assist others where possible, being sure to protect your health as well. 
  • Share positive and inspiring stories of what your community is doing to pull together during this time.  
  • Be patient and recognize the role caretakers and health care workers are playing in supporting people affected with COVID-19.  
If You Are Self-Isolating 
  • Stay connected with friends and family by phone, social media or video calls. 
  • Ask for help from friends, family and neighbours to deliver necessities to your door. Many community groups (e.g. churches and service clubs) have volunteers to help those who are isolated. 
  • Even if isolating or in quarantine, keep up your personal daily routines at home or create new ones.  
  • Stay healthy. Be active, eat well and get enough sleep.  
If You Have Mental Health and Addiction Issues

It’s extra important to control your anxiety and maintain your mental wellness during COVID-19:

  • Consider and accept that some fear and anxiety is normal
  • Seek credible information provided by experts and reputable sources
  • Assess your personal risk
  • Seek support
  • Get proper rest and sleep
  • Stay active
  • Access this Mental Health and COVID-19 Pandemic resource from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Additional Resources:  

Four County Crisis – If you’re in crisis please call 705-745-6484 or toll-free 1-866-995-9933. By phoning these numbers, you can access 24-hour, free, confidential crisis support.

211 Community Support – Easily find/search government and community-based services during COVID-19.  Call or text 2-1-1 day or night to find support for all of life’s challenges. Live Chat also available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm.

Centre for Addition and Mental Health  

Bounce Back – A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.

Kids’ Help Phone – 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people. Services available in both English and French by calling 1-800-668-6868.

Good2Talk – Free, confidential mental health support service providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to postsecondary students in Ontario

Wellness Together Canada – Mental health and substance use support.

World Health Organization 

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