Vax-giving: More Thanksgiving freedom for the fully vaccinated

No masks required for those who are fully vaxxed, so long as everyone's comfortable

While we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, it looks like we’ll be able to have a more “normal” Thanksgiving this year compared to last. It’s all up to whether you’ve gotten both COVID shots and your comfort level.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, handed down some recommendations for celebrating Thanksgiving this year, saying we don’t have to resort to virtual celebrations like we did last year. “I am only too aware of the negative impacts and the social isolation can have, and the need to spend time with our loved ones. That is why we want families to embrace the opportunity to get together for their mental, physical and social well-being,” he said Thursday.

“Thanks to our collective efforts to get vaccinated and to follow public health guidance, we are able to gather together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, provided public health measures are followed,” he added.

Dr. Moore says those who choose to host an in-person gathering this year are permitted 25 people indoors and 100 outdoors, under Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen. “But the fewer people who gather the lower the risk of transmission and outdoor gatherings are always safer, so use outdoor spaces whenever possible,” he said.

For those who are fully vaccinated, Moore says no face covering or physical distancing is necessary. He does advise caution when gathering with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Moore suggests face coverings if physical distancing cannot be maintained in these situations.

“Regardless of setting, you can wear a face covering and physically distance if you feel it is right for you, especially if you or others are immunocompromised or at high risk of severe disease or exposure to COVID-19,” added Moore.

Ontario’s top doc also handed down some guidance for Halloween. “Trick or Treating should take place outdoors as much as possible. Be creative; fashion your face covering into your Halloween costume design. But remember, a costume mask is no substitute for a proper face covering,” Moore said, adding crowding on doorsteps should be avoided when possible.

Moore says the older trick or treaters who might be attending or hosting a Hallowe’en party should abide by the same advice as for Thanksgiving get-togethers.

Along with Thanksgiving and Halloween, Moore presented some information on how to safely attend a wedding these days. He says while individuals who are not fully vaccinated are currently permitted to attend a wedding reception, that exemption will come to an end on Wednesday, October 13. That means proof of vaccination or an eligible exemption will be required by the middle of next week.

“We know from experience; it is exactly these kinds of events that can lead to spikes in transmission. But provided we do our best to follow the guidelines in place, we can enjoy some well-deserved time with friends and family,” concluded Dr. Moore. “And if you haven’t already, please take the time to get vaccinated this weekend. This Thanksgiving, a vax-giving.”