Health officials across Canada are urging residents to avoid gathering over the holidays, but a new poll shows some people aren’t listening.
New data from the Angus Reid Institute has found that a significant portion of Canadians are still planning on visiting people outside their immediate households.
The poll shows that 30 percent of Canadians will get together with friends and family and 10 percent say they will travel outside their own communities to do so.
In Ontario, 27 percent say they plan on visiting with friends and family and 8 percent say they plan on travelling.
The data finds that 30 percent of Ontarians haven’t spent time with anyone outside their own homes in the last few weeks. Over half, 57 percent, say they have socialized with one to five people outside their homes in that timeframe. Fourteen percent say they have gathered with six or more in recent weeks.
These numbers are higher in Alberta and Quebec, two provinces that have been among the hardest hit by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Close to 35 percent in each province plan on celebrating with others over the holidays.
The poll finds that 80 percent of Canadians are concerned about someone they know becoming sick. Those who aren’t concerned were twice as likely to say they would be gathering with others over the holidays.
Optimism prevails across the country despite the unprecedented circumstances. The poll shows the pandemic hasn’t completely dampened spirits with the same number of Canadians looking forward to the holiday season as in 2019.
Toronto’s medical officer of health says with COVID-19 cases steadily on the rise in the city, it’s wise for residents to plan and prepare for varying, uncommon holiday celebrations as we head into the new year.
Dr. Eileen de Villa said the start of December regularly brings “traditionally-filled celebrations” but those typical holiday get-togethers must be completely rethought and reimagined.
“This year cannot be as usual,” de Villa pressed. “December is seven days along and we have reported just slightly more than 4,100 cases of COVID-19 and 61 deaths from it.”
“The case counts are so high, that I can only call this a very, very serious situation,” she added.
The continued rise in cases heading into the holiday season has forced government leaders into some difficult decisions. British Columbia announced monday that COVID-19 restrictions in that province have been extended to Jan. 8 as the transmission and community spread of the illness remain high.