As the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to climb, Dr. Theresa Tam has issued a statement about celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada this year.

As the country’s total number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 165,000, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Tam admitted “the carefree planning” we had last Thanksgiving is not going to happen this year.

Instead, she urged Canadians to do some “serious planning” ahead of the holiday next week, to ensure that “there are no viruses invited or passed around at our gatherings.”

The top doctor’s advice includes using “an abundance of personal protections,” which could mean celebrating virtually, meeting outdoors or only gathering with people from our social bubbles.

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What are the rules for Thanksgiving in Canada?

When it comes to what is and isn’t allowed on October 12, a lot depends on where you live.

Each region’s day-to-day COVID-19 restrictions will still apply, regardless of the holiday.

In Ontario, for example, the indoor gathering limit is 10 people. This same limit will apply on Thanksgiving.

If you intend to celebrate with people who are outside of your “small, consistent and trusted contacts bubble” you should remain two metres apart at all times, said Dr. Tam.

“Remember, too close is too close, even if you are outdoors,” she added.

Additionally, the top doctor urged Canadians to avoid sharing food or objects with others during the holiday. 

“Bring-Your-Own is safer,” she said, “Do share friendships, experiences and the great Canadian outdoors – together apart!”

Who can I invite to my house for Thanksgiving?

While there’s no specific rules in place regarding exactly who you can invite to your home for Thanksgiving, health officials have given some pretty clear advice.

In Ottawa, the city’s Medical Officer of Health has advised locals to invite no guests and only celebrate with their household.

Dr. Theresa Tam is also recommending virtual connections wherever possible, and said that in-person indoor gatherings are safest if “small and select.”

If you must meet with people outside of your “close contacts bubble,” Dr. Tam recommends gathering outdoors and practicing physical distancing at all times.

"An outdoor safe distancing meet-up with others ... might involve setting up in an open space where each contact bubble is no closer than the length of a picnic table apart," she suggested.

What is the safest way to celebrate the holiday?

According to Dr. Tam, the safest way to celebrate is to take “every measure during every moment of our day, and always act in a way that can prevent the spread of illness to others.”

These measures include regular handwashing, practicing physical distancing from people outside our social bubble and wearing a mask wherever necessary.

Planning ahead is key, she also noted, so that guests can be prepared to practice all appropriate COVID-19 precautions.

She concluded her statement on Thanksgiving by reiterating that public health authorities cannot “prevent a further escalation of the pandemic” alone.

Whatever you get up to on October 12 this year, it's definitely going to look a little different!

*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.

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