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Media Release: Please celebrate safely this holiday season

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/Dec. 11, 2020 – The 2020 holiday season will be unlike any other, and the way you choose to celebrate will have significant implications on the spread of COVID-19 in our region over the coming months. For that reason, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is strongly recommending that you only celebrate with the people in your household, or if you live alone, choose one other household to celebrate with this year.

“We know that it’s disappointing to skip large in-person celebrations this year, but please remember that this is a temporary measure that will help protect the health of your loved ones, enabling you to celebrate together in the years to come”, says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “The best gift you can give this holiday season is the gift of health and safety for the ones you love. As you make your plans this year, please remember that more than 12,000 Canadian families will be spending this holiday without loved ones who have lost their lives to COVID-19. Prevent further spread and protect those at risk by making plans for low risk celebrations.”

Investigations conducted by HPEPH show that close contact and social gatherings with individuals outside of an individual’s immediate household are contributing to escalating COVID-19 rates in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. While it may be difficult, please avoid large gatherings and parties with extended family and friends. It is important to remember that there are still many ways to safely celebrate and even create new traditions this year. Consider these safer ways to celebrate:

  • 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;
  • Getting outdoors and participating in activities that don’t involve a lot of physical contact and where you can physically distance, such as skating, hiking, or snowshoeing;
  • Staying at home and baking holiday treats with your immediate household; and
  • Donating to your favourite holiday charities.

You can find more information about how to safely celebrate the holidays this year on our website hpePublicHealth.ca, including information about low, moderate, and high-risk holiday activities. Throughout this festive season, remember that COVID-19 does not take a holiday. Please continue to follow these five fundamental actions to protect yourself and others:

  • Stay home when ill, as directed by provincial assessment tools;
  • Always physical distance with those outside your household;
  • Wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, as well as when physical distancing is difficult or not possible;
  • Wash your hands often, and clean frequently touched surfaces;
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

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Media contacts

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist
etubbs@hpeph.ca

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

Symptoms or exposure? Visit www.ontario.ca/exposed for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/public-health-measures.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.