How to celebrate Thanksgiving safely according to WECHU

But as the threat of the Delta variant looms, experts say Canadians planning on hosting Thanksgiving gatherings should proceed with caution and avoid having large, indoor gatherings with unvaccinated guests. (Pexels)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has released recommendations for celebrating upcoming Thanksgiving weekend safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the second COVID Thanksgiving. Last fall, Windsor-Essex saw its largest spike in cases following holiday activities associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

While vaccination assists by offering protection from COVID-19, locally, under 70 per cent of Windsor-Essex residents are fully vaccinated, a number that has Health Unit CEO Nicole Dupuis urging residents not to let their guards down this holiday weekend.

“We know that majority of our cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex are the Delta variant, which is more transmissible especially in indoor settings and among those that are not fully vaccinated,” said Dupuis. “With this in mind, the risk of transmission during gatherings such as dinner parties and family events is very high.”

WECHU recommendations for a safe Thanksgiving weekend:

  • Celebrate outdoors whenever possible.
  • Keep distance and wear masks when 2m of physical distancing cannot be maintained outside of while eating and drinking.
  • Keep your group to the smallest number of people possible as the more people that come to an event the more likely for an exposure to the virus to occur.
  • Monitor your guest list to ensure everyone is vaccinated.
  • Ask all attendees to complete the online COVID-19 self-assessment honestly, and arrange for alternative lower risk celebrations (such as virtual) if they are not able to attend.
  • Abide by all measures in the Reopening Ontario Act and follow local restrictions
  • Visit the health unit’s website for a list of current rules and guidelines.

Acting medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai says the level of adherence to these recommendations will make a big difference in the ongoing battle against the spread of COVID-19.

“Any indoor social gathering, especially dining events, remains a high risk activity,” said Nesathurai. “With approximately 70,000 eligible local residents not fully vaccinated, we should all carefully consider who we invite into our homes. It is important to ask guests not to attend a family event, if they are having any symptoms.”