Staying Safe this Holiday Season: A holiday message from Saskatchewan’s Medical Health Officers
In our province, and across the globe, COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll and has been our collective challenge for nearly two years. Everyone has had to find different ways to continue with education or work and to stay connected with loved ones. There has been hardship and tragedy for many. But there has also been resilience, and we have also seen communities, businesses, schools, organizations and individuals come together to help protect one another from the spread of the virus.
While the pandemic is not over, we want to thank the people of Saskatchewan for all that you have done, and keep doing, to keep one another safe. Thank you for following public health orders, for wearing a mask, for keeping two metres apart when you are in public, for washing or sanitizing your hands frequently and for getting vaccinated.
With the holidays approaching, safely reconnecting with one another is top of mind, and there are simple things we can each do to stay safe while gathering with friends and family this holiday season. How each one of us behaves over the holidays, will set the stage for COVID-19 cases in 2022, so now is not the time to stop being careful. Here is what we will be doing to keep our family and friends safe and we recommend that each one of you, adults and children alike, should do the same:
- Limit non-essential travel whenever possible. If you must travel, either domestically or internationally, please stay up-to-date on the COVID situation at your destination. Refer to the latest travel advisories and stay current with requirements for border entry, testing and quarantine. Know the rules and protocols to protect yourself when travelling, during your stay and for your safe return. Information on travelling to, from and within Canada is found at https://travel.gc.ca/.
- Keep your gatherings small and ask that everyone who attends be vaccinated. Getting tested ahead of a gathering, even if you are vaccinated, is a safe practice.
- Wear a good-fitting mask in all indoor public places and especially when you are with people who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or where the vaccination status is unknown. You can also wear a mask outside if there are a lot of people or less than two-metres distance between people.
- Even if you are fully vaccinated, older people or those people with health conditions should wear a mask for extra protection during indoor gatherings, even when gathering with family and friends. And if you are eligible for a booster shot, please get one as soon you can.
- Make sure your children receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible before the holidays. Children aged 5 to11 years are now able to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
- Have your children wear a mask when they visit Santa and make sure Santa is also wearing a mask.
- Meet and celebrate outdoors as much as possible, as being outdoors is safer than being indoors. When meeting inside, open windows and doors or use HEPA air filters.
- Try not to share food as this can increase your risk of getting COVID and spreading it to others. Please follow all masking and proof of vaccination rules if you are meeting in a public place like a restaurant or at a public facility like a gym.
- If you are sick or even feel a bit unwell, please avoid gathering and get tested, even if you are vaccinated.
- Look at your own risk in every situation and do everything you can to lower it.
If you are not vaccinated, please avoid gathering with friends and family this holiday season. Send cards or messages instead and consider using FaceTime, Skype or any other social media platform to host a holiday event. Make good use of the technology available to connect with others. And please, get vaccinated as soon as possible. COVID vaccines are free, safe and available to everyone five years of age and older.
When enough people are vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, then the virus spread will slow down and the pandemic will end. That is what we all want. Until then, each person in Saskatchewan has a job to do to stop the spread. It’s not an exaggeration to say that lives depend on the simple things we can all do, like staying at home if you have even one symptom of COVID-19, and getting a COVID-19 test as soon as you can.
Before we go, we have one last request: Please do your part to stop the spread of misinformation and rumours. Get your news from trusted sources and encourage others to do the same.
Happy Holidays, from your Medical Health Officers of Saskatchewan.