christmas covid ontario

Doug Ford says Christmas could be held under lockdown if numbers keep rising

With less than six weeks to go until Christmas, Ontario residents are starting to wonder if they should make plans for what's typically the busiest holiday season of the year.

It's not only the event itself we need to worry about this time, either: Unlike Thanksgiving and Halloween, many people spend entire weeks (if not months) leading up to Christmas frantically shopping for gifts... often in crowded spaces such as malls and big box stores.

When asked about this during his daily pandemic press conference on Monday, just hours after several more public health regions entered the "Red-Restrict" zone of his government's recently-modified COVID-19 restriction framework, Premier Doug Ford cautioned that we need to "be super cautious" to avoid a holiday lockdown.

"Well, nothing is more important other than the health and safety of the people," said Ford. 

"We'll always have other celebrations, we'll always have other Christmases, but if the numbers continue to spike, as I've said before, I won't hesitate in a heartbeat to lock things down."

"I'm sorry for a lot of the small businesses, but it's better to have a healthy and safe community than one that the virus just is totally out of control and there's still time for all of us," continued the premier in a surprising deviation from his usual 'protect the economy' schtick.

"I'm saying be cautious, I mean be super cautious, and just make sure you follow the protocols and aren't out there celebrating and having a large amount of people over to your house."

With new daily cases continuing to rise across the province, especially in hot spots like Toronto and Peel, caution is indeed the name of the game, and officials are urging everyone to maintain physical distance from anyone they don't live with. 

As for formal public health reccomendations from the province, there aren't any yet — but Health Minister Christine Elliott says that should change soon.

"I know people want to get together with friends and family and celebrate, all of that's important, but we may need to look at it a little differently this year," said Elliott who noted that she's had several conversations with Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams about potential holiday measures.

"We will be coming forward with those suggestions in the next short while so that everybody will know where they stand, because I know that people are trying to make their plans for the holidays as they are coming forward."

In response to the issue of holiday shopping specifically, Elliott said that large crowds in mall settings can become coronavirus superspread events.

"We need to be very careful about that, but of course, there are other ways people can shop online and so on," she said.

"We don't want people to miss out on having a happy celebration, but there are safe ways to do that in ways that aren't going to endanger your health or the health of people around you."

Lead photo by

Randy McDonald

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