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Santa Claus parade? Not a merry idea this year, says health unit

Trick-or-treating is 'risky', it's not the year for Santa Claus parades and Remembrance Day should be virtual affair, suggests region's medical officer of health
santa waves
Thousands of people typically line the parade route in Orillia to see the Santa Claus parade, which serves as the unofficial kick off to the Christmas season. The medical officer of health says that, due to COVID, municipalities should not host parades. Dave Dawson/OrilliaMatters File Photo

There will be a few tricks to treating others and yourself to fall and winter holiday celebrations this year. 

Thanksgiving dinners should be small, Halloween candy collecting needs to include physical distancing, and Santa Claus may not be able to arrive via parade this year, according to the region’s top doctor. 

“In my opinion, parades will be a thing we should not be doing in the year of the pandemic,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, chief medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. 

Though there are a couple of months left before Santa Claus parade season, Gardner said we’re still going to be living with the coronavirus, and that means taking precautions even during holidays. 

Typical Halloween trick-or-treating will come with “inherent risk,” noted the doctor. 

He cautioned against going in groups outside your own household, and said those handing out candy will have to find ways of doing it with physical distancing. 

Gardner is also advising against big dinner parties for upcoming holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgiving. 

“Take to heart the need to reduce the contact you have with people, and be very careful about people coming to your house,” he said, adding if you are having people in your house at all, you should keep the numbers small and make sure you’re physical distancing. 

Remembrance Day ceremonies should be planned with protecting the vulnerable at top of mind. Gardner suggested online or broadcast services might be better options right now. 

“With the increase in cases, it needs to be planned in a way so that you’re minimizing crowd gathering,” he said. “People need to remember this is a particularly dangerous virus for older generations. I really think we need to plan this event to reduce the risk for them and for the community at large.” 

He anticipates “specific recommendations” from the provincial government and public health agency for Halloween, trick-or-treating, and cenotaph services. 

“This kind of advice can change depending on how the trajectory of the pandemic goes,” said Gardner. 

Currently, the province and the Simcoe-Muskoka region are seeing an upswing in cases, which Gardner said was “dramatic” and “worrisome.” 

He is advising against close contact with anyone but those in your household, and a rollback of social circles.




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