The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree continue to grow, but questions remain about whether the family will be able to crowd around the table for the Christmas turkey.
Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam asked Canadians to plan for a safe holiday season, one which will look different than ones from years prior.
“Our best protection, now and into the holiday season, is to limit errands and outings to the essentials, keep in-person social activities to our existing household and strictly and consistently maintain public health practices,” Tam said.
She recommended “online game nights and sharing special meals together virtually with people outside our household, to warmly-dressed, physically distanced walkabouts and cheering our neighbours with decorated balconies, windows and lawns.”
Some experts warn that COVID-19 may exacerbate the mental health strain of the holidays.
“These next couple of months are going to probably be the hardest,” said Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer at Island Health. “It’s going to be that slogging through and mentally trying to tough it out.”
Data reveals that calls to B.C.’s crisis lines have spiked 27 per cent since the pandemic began, with the number of people reporting poor mental health tripling compared to pre-pandemic times. The Vancouver Island Crisis Society has seen a five per cent rise in call volumes compared to this time last year, with many callers saying they feel anxious and depressed.
“Now we’re heading into more indoor time, more people who are affected by a lack of light. And then of course on top of that, a holiday season in which we’re probably not going to be able to celebrate in the way that we’re used to,” Stanwick said.
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