The second Easter weekend of the pandemic has become an emblem of exhaustion over public health measures, some say, as politicians across much of Canada warn families not to gather in person for the holiday. (Black Press Media files)

The second Easter weekend of the pandemic has become an emblem of exhaustion over public health measures, some say, as politicians across much of Canada warn families not to gather in person for the holiday. (Black Press Media files)

Pandemic exhaustion could drive some to gather for Easter despite warnings

Recent statistics suggest more than 40% of Canadians feel safe attending family gatherings at this point

The second Easter weekend of the pandemic has become an emblem of exhaustion over public health measures, some say, as politicians across much of Canada warn families not to gather in person for the holiday.

The third wave of COVID-19 crashing across the country has made get-togethers perilous, prompting provincial and federal officials to encourage virtual celebrations and in some cases tighten restrictions.

“We must all avoid social gatherings,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Thursday as he announced tighter public health restrictions across the province, set to begin first thing Saturday.

“I know many of you were hoping to celebrate this important holiday with family and friends. But again, I’m asking people to only gather with their immediate household.”

That messaging didn’t go far enough to convince Marcia Martins, who lives in Toronto with her husband and two kids, to stay home for Easter.

Instead, she’ll be scaling back her family’s typical huge gathering to four households — hers, her parents’, her brother’s, and her aunt and uncle’s.

Most of the people who will be gathering don’t work outside the home, she said, so she’s not worried about safety.

“These are just difficult times right now,” she said. “And I’m just glad that there’s a way that we can just keep as close to normal — or what our old normal was.”

Recent statistics suggest more than 40 per cent of Canadians feel safe attending family gatherings at this point, and a quarter believe the government is overhyping the dangers of COVID-19.

The online poll of more than 2,000 Canadians, carried out between March 15 and 25 by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies and the University of Manitoba, suggests the messaging isn’t getting through, said Jack Jedwab, who heads up the association.

“We’ll need to keep warning people that they need to be cautious,” he said. “It’s a very hard ask of people right now not to gather at this time of year, even though it’s something we must do.”

Leger said its poll would have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20, though the polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

For his part, Jedwab said he is sticking to virtual get-togethers over the long weekend, just like he did for Passover last week.

“For many of us, it’s kind of wired in our DNA to get together with our family and friends around this time,” said Jedwab, who lives in Montreal.

Rhonda Davidson, who lives in Oakville, Ont., said she’s resisting the urge to see extended family this weekend and celebrating only with those in her household — her husband and their kids.

She said she understands that people are facing pandemic exhaustion, but feels they should put that aside for the greater good.

“I’m tired of it, too,” she said. “Everyone’s tired. No one likes it. Just do what we’re supposed to be doing right now, and then hopefully this can all be done.”

Ontario’s government urged residents to do just that Thursday as it announced a “shutdown” of the province. Personal care services such as hair salons are to close and restaurants are to move to takeout only.

But the Progressive Conservatives stopped short of replicating the stay-at-home order that came into effect in early January, even as they touted its success at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re not going to be producing a stay-at-home order, because we saw the last time that it had tremendous ill effect on both children and adults,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott. “…We of course have to balance any measures that we take with people’s mental health as well.”

Quebec, too, found itself tightening restrictions in some regions — a measure announced Wednesday evening.

Schools and non-essential businesses were closed and the curfew moved to 8 p.m. in Quebec City, Levis and Gatineau. Legault said the lockdown would last for at least 10 days.

In British Columbia, the provincial health officer initially said people could gather indoors for worship services between late March and early May, which this year encompasses Passover, Easter, Vaisakhi and parts of Ramadan.

But a recent surge in COVID-19 cases saw Dr. Bonnie Henry rescind that offer this week, for fear religious gatherings could contribute to the virus’s spread.

“We’re just in a very difficult position,” Henry said on Monday. “Some of these important holidays are going to be difficult this year, again.”

Churches, for which offering online services is now old hat, will livestream their Easter celebrations for those who can’t attend in person.

In Saskatchewan, however, Premier Scott Moe stopped short of changing any rules, instead asking people to follow public health advice.

“I would just also urge folks to be very, very careful,” he said. “If they are going to gather, I would urge them to consider potentially not gathering this weekend.”

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from Cedar Hill Middle School play and hold a sign to protest proposed music cuts to school band programs in the Greater Victoria School District, during a Monday event. The district is facing a massive deficit and is considering a number of options for cutting costs. (Photo courtesy Laura Alcaraz-Sehn)
Massive student demonstration planned to protest Greater Victoria school band cuts

Band students from 14 SD61 schools will be at major intersections Thursday after school

Leon the squirrel gets a fancy snack of almonds and sunflower seeds from a well-meaning local, who really should be leaving Leon to his own foraging devices. (Submitted)
Squirrels don’t need your nuts, thanks

Consider birding instead of wildlife feeding, SPCA suggests

Jessica Sault of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation is hosting a virtual cedar weaving workshop through Royal Roads University on April 25. (Black Press Media file)
Cedar trees weave deeply into lives of coastal First Nations communities

Jessica Sault of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation hosts virtual cedar weaving workshop through Royal Roads

Reuben Forsland in his East Sooke studio with the guitar he crafted from hemp wood that he hopes will start a conversation about sustainability. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
East Sooke artisan strikes a chord with custom guitars

Guitars include wood from Hendrix childhood home in Seattle

A man accused of choking a 15-year-old in his tent in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night has been arrested by Victoria police. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man accused of choking, sexually exploiting 15-year-old in Victoria tent arrested

Police arrested the 38-year-old in Beacon Hill Park Wednesday afternoon

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge on Earth Day

Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)
Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

There are lots of resources for seniors looking for information about COVID-19. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
COVID questions? Here are some phone-based resources available for seniors

Here is a list of numbers to keep on hand for Vancouver Islanders who aren’t fond of computers

Chum Salmon fry being examined with multiple motile and attached sea lice on Vargas Island. (Cedar Coast Field Station photo)
Study: Tofino fish farm sea lice infestations add fuel to push to remove open pens

Ahousaht First Nation asking for higher standards than what DFO requires

Most Read