"Consider outdoor gathering": Dr. Hinshaw's tips for Albertans this Christmas

Dec 23 2021, 5:36 pm

Alberta’s top doctor is advising Albertans on how to gather this Christmas safely, as Omicron cases swell in the province.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw has a string of recommendations on how Albertans can celebrate with their loved ones in the safest way possible this holiday season.

Hinshaw’s tips can be found on the Alberta government website, and include:

  • Limiting the number of in-person contacts you have
    • While you can gather in groups up to 10 adults, Hinshaw says it’s a good idea to keep gatherings as small as possible and limit the number of get-togethers you host and attend.
    • Consider going to one family dinner instead of two parties.
    • Consider limiting your social contact over the holidays by at least 50%.
    • In alignment with the current work from home order in effect, workplaces are strongly encouraged to cancel any holiday gatherings, even if held in a Restrictions Exemption Program establishment.
  • Talk to guests about options for gathering to ensure everyone is comfortable
    • Encourage guests to receive all vaccine doses available to them and request they wear masks when not eating or drinking. Masks should be well-fitting and high-quality to have the greatest benefit.
    • Whenever possible, have a virtual option to keep in-person attendance low.
    • Consider outdoor gathering options.
    • Increase ventilation indoors whenever possible.
  • As an additional tool, consider using a rapid test for screening regularly in the days before you head out to a gathering.
    • If you’ve picked up a free rapid testing kit and have no symptoms, you can test yourself daily for a few days before the event as an additional prevention measure to help identify infections early.
    • This should only be considered in addition to all other health precautions, not as a replacement for public health measures. A single negative test does not guarantee that a person is COVID-free.
    • If you have symptoms you must complete the online assessment and get tested at an Alberta Health Services Assessment Centre.

Albertans gathering this Christmas don’t have to be from the same household and can be from anywhere. Albertans younger than 18 are not counted in the 10 person gathering-limit numbers.

On Thursday, Alberta reported more than 1,300 new cases of COVID-19, including more than 500 cases of the Omicron variant.

Laine MitchellLaine Mitchell

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