December 3rd 2020 -With the COVID-19 pandemic, the holiday season will look differently this year. Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Public Health is still recommending that residents remain only in close contact with people within their own household, but reminds residents there are still ways to safely celebrate the season with those you care about. For those who live alone, KFL&A recommends considering joining another household to maintain social connection.
When deciding how to celebrate, KFL&A recommends that you consider your own level of risk and that of your household members. If anyone in your household is at higher risk from COVID-19, everyone should choose lower risk activities to stay safe
For the latest updates from KFL&A about the status of COVID cases, visit https://www.kflaph.ca/en/healthy-living/status-of-cases-in-kfla.aspx
Determining your level of risk
- Are you at high risk of developing serious complications if you become infected with COVID-19?
- Are there people at high risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19 in your household that you could unintentionally infect?
- Are you able to self-isolate for 14 days if required (i.e., unable to attend work, caregiver to children or others)?
- Has the host made changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., spacing chairs, encouraging physical distancing, and having guests wear face coverings)?
- Are you able to adjust your plans at the event (e.g., as stepping away if it gets crowded, wearing a face covering and washing your hands)?
- Where will the event be held? Outdoor events are lower risk than indoors.
- Does attending the event involve travelling outside of the region? Avoid travelling to or from areas with higher levels of COVID-19 active cases.
- Will there be alcohol? Consuming alcohol, even small amounts, can lower our inhibitions and we may take fewer precautions.
During the holiday season, continue to follow public health measures on how to protect yourself.
We are recommending that you only be in close contact with people within your own household. Even if you are friends with someone, the risk of transmitting COVID-19 still exists and is not reduced because you know each other. If you choose to have a small social gathering with people outside your household, here are some tips to reduce your risk:
IF YOU DECIDE TO HOST A GATHERING:
- Let guests know about the COVID-19 prevention measures you are taking so they know what to expect before they arrive. Be clear about your expectations around wearing face coverings, start and end times, distancing measures, and other details you have planned.
- Keep celebrations small. Where physical distancing can be maintained, no more than 10 people are allowed at indoor parties and gatherings, while 25 is the maximum number of guests at outdoor functions. You could face a fine for hosting a party that breaks the size gathering limits.
- Make sure people from different households can be physically distanced. Arrange tables and chairs in advance so people can sit separately. Greet guests in a way that avoids close contact gestures (e.g., hugs, shaking hands).
- Holding events outdoors reduces risk. If indoors, open windows to increase ventilation.
- Encourage guests to wear face coverings when physical distancing is difficult. Consider providing face coverings for guests or ask them to bring their own.
- Ensure there is enough soap and hand sanitizer for people to use during the gathering.
- Ask guests to follow public health recommendations – to stay home if sick, to wash their hands before serving or eating food. Ask guests to take a COVID-19 self assessment before attending.
- Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
- To minimize the number of people touching serving utensils, choose to order in take-out, pre-portioned food, or have guests bring their own food.
- 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.
IF YOU ARE A GUEST and DECIDE TO ATTEND A GATHERING
- Ask the host about the COVID-19 precautions they are taking so that you can make an informed decision about your risk in attending.
- Choose to attend only small celebrations. As a guest, you can be fined for attending a gathering which exceeds the legal limit.
- Maintain physical distance from those not in your own household. Step away, or go outdoors, if it gets crowded.
- Bring your own hand sanitizer. Practice good hand hygiene using hand sanitizer or washing your hands frequently.
- Bring your own face covering to wear when physical distancing is difficult.
Remember: Stay flexible and have a back-up plan for a virtual celebration in case things change at the last minute. Set clear expectations for you and your guests:
- Be clear that it is okay to cancel at the last minute if someone is not feeling well or if risk levels change.
- Have an alternative planned ahead of time so people feel less pressure and are comfortable with the plans in case things change.
Anyone who is planning to travel for the holidays should be aware that COVID-19 is circulating at different levels around the province and country. Local cases have been linked to travel within the province and within Canada.
Review on our travel page for more guidance around travel, both within the province and outside of the province.
Giving back to your community
It is the perfect time to think about those who are struggling. Suggest to colleagues and family members to donate money, gifts, food, or other supplies to local charities, such as filling a basket for your local food bank.
Here is some general advice to consider when planning your holiday season:
Safer holiday activities
- Events held outdoors, where guests can physically distance, such as skating, hiking, or snowshoeing.
- Staying at home and baking holiday treats with your immediate household.
- Connecting virtually to enjoy a meal together with family, friends or co-workers .
- Enjoying an intimate celebration with members of your household.
- Leaving gifts or baked goods at your family’s doorstep for contact-less delivery.
- Donating to your favourite holiday charities.
Riskier holiday activities
- In-person gatherings held indoors, where face coverings must be removed to eat or drink.
- Indoor holiday gatherings such as having overnight guests or sleepovers with friends or people outside of your household.
- Large social gatherings with family, friends or co-workers outside of your household.
- Visiting family and friends for non-essential reasons.
- Potlucks and family-style meals (passing food person to person) or buffets.
- Travelling outside of the KFL&A region.
- Individuals and families in higher transmission areas travelling to lower transmission areas.
How to safely donate to local charities
How to prepare items for donation
- Contact the charity or organization to learn what items are in need or being accepted. Making donations in a contact-less manner (e.g., cash, gift cards) can be a way to support local charities, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
- Try to choose items that come in packaging, or have hard or non-permeable surfaces (such as plastic) and are easy to clean and disinfect.
- Wash or sanitize hands before handling donation items.
- Wipe down the item, package, or non-perishable food package with an approved low level disinfectant if possible, prior to taking to a donation centre.
- Avoid participating in gift donating if you are feeling sick.
After receiving a donated item
- Wash or sanitize hands before and after handling donated items.
- Wash clothing according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry completely.
- Toys with hard surfaces should be cleaned with an approved low level disinfectant, and soft surface toys should be washed if possible or cleaned using soap and water, or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces.