It has been nine months since we started protection measures to keep band members safe from COVID-19. Many people are now experiencing “COVID-19 fatigue” or “anticipatory stress disorder”. As the Christmas season approaches, we all just want to spend time with our family and friends.
“As we head into the holiday season, I encourage Canadians to take some time today to make a plan for safer holidays, ensuring that you consider the risks to yourself and your loved ones. Our best protection, now and into the holiday season, is to limit errands and outings to the essentials, keep in-person social activities to our existing household and strictly and consistently maintain public health practices. That doesn’t mean we can’t continue to find safe ways to have the meaningful celebrations that are so important for maintaining our traditions and social connections.”
– Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer,
The safest way to celebrate is to do so only with those who are currently in your household (people who live with you, they don’t necessarily have to be your family members) or virtually (for instance, using teleconferencing or telephone calls).
If you are going to invite others in, choose people who have been sticking to the safety measures of wearing a mask, washing their hands often and maintaining social distancing.
You can also consider an outdoor celebration during the day, or around a fire in the evening. Note that being outdoors decreases the risk of transmission, but doesn’t eliminate it. You must still remember the “3 W’s”: Wear a mask, Wash your hands, and Watch your distance.
Please don’t attend any celebrations if:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19,
- You have any symptoms of COVID-19,
- You are waiting for the result of a COVID-19 test,
- You have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or
- You are at elevated risk of COVID-19 infection (over 65 years old, chronic disease)
Some tips to remember if you are hosting an event:
- Ask your guests to wear a mask except when eating or drinking,
- Have hand sanitizer available,
- Clean commonly touched surfaces, such as light switches, door knobs, etc. often
- Avoid potluck, buffet or family style dinners,
- Encourage your guests to bring their own food and drinks,
- Have one person, who is wearing a mask and gloves, plate the food and serve,
- Use disposable plates and cutlery.
If at all possible, postpone travel, particularly to or from red zones. If you are having guests from areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases, encourage your guests to self-isolate for 14 days before coming to see you. Guests coming from outside the community should avoid public places such as restaurants, gas station, stores.
Keep yourself as healthy as possible by getting proper sleep, fresh air and healthy meals. Get your flu shot and stay away from people who are ill. Don’t forget to take care of your mental health. The holiday season often brings feelings of stress, loneliness and isolation. It’s okay to have those feelings, particularly this year. Consider engaging in activities that can reduce your own stress, like meditation, calling family or friends, reflecting on all that you are grateful for, or simply helping others.
Remember the public health measures that the Chief and Council have put into place: wear masks when out in public, restrict indoor gatherings to no more than 10 people not from your household, and outdoor gatherings to no more than 25 people not from your household.
Our understanding of the COVID-19 virus is constantly developing. While there are currently no positive cases in Neyaashiinigmiing, the Grey Bruce counties have changed status from a green zone to yellow because of the increase in cases in the local area. With that in mind, even though we are all tired of the need for ongoing precautions, it’s important that we continue to be careful and observant of safety protocols as long as necessary.
This will be a holiday season like none we have ever seen. We have spent the past nine months doing all we can to prevent COVID-19 from entering the community. Please, continue to be strong and vigilant for our relations, friends, and community. There is light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine expected to be available in the new year. We will make it through this together.
We wish everybody a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!