New traditions likely needed for Christmas, Hanukkah celebrations due to COVID-19: Dr. Etches
OTTAWA -- With the holiday season fast approaching, Ottawa's top doctor suggests families plan new traditions to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters Tuesday afternoon that many COVID-19 indicators are pointing to a "slow decline" of transmission in Ottawa.
With Hanukkah set to begin on Dec. 10, and Christmas just five weeks away, Dr. Etches says celebrations may be forced to change due to the risk of COVID-19.
"We are all yearning for a season of light. And I've seen your adaptability and resilience firsthand," said Dr. Etches.
"We found new traditions for Thanksgiving, Halloween, Remembrance Day and Diwali. And while it's too soon to know for sure what Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa will look like, we will likely have to prepare for a similar approach."
Ottawa Public Health recommended children not trick-or-treat on Halloween due to COVID-19 transmission in the community. The public health unit also recommended people limit contacts and stay within Ottawa for the Thanksgiving weekend after cases spiked around the October holiday.
"The message to keep close contacts to your household members also comes with recognition that single people and essential supports must be included," said Dr. Etches.
"2020 has been hard. But it's not forever."
Several Ottawa events have already been cancelled, including the Help Santa Toy Parade, the Orleans Parade of Lights and the Lansdowne Christmas Market.
Ottawa Public Health has launched a survey asking people how they are planning for a safer holiday this year.
On Tuesday, Dr. Etches was asked about any concerns with crowding in malls and stores in the lead up to Christmas.
"It's always people doing the right thing that will help us control COVID in the community, much, much more than any enforcement," said Dr. Etches.
"But it is helpful to remind stores, for example, that there are capacity limits."