COVID-19 is still here, avoid social gatherings this long weekend!

Sabrina Almeida

Another Victoria Day is upon us. But Canada’s unofficial start to summer will be unlike what we have been used to in the past and more like the one last year when we hunkered down with those we live with. The big barbeques, picnics in the park, camping and cottage trips we usually plan with extended family and friends, simply cannot happen this year. Not yet at least!

The province extended the stay-at-home order last week which means gathering with people outside your household, indoors or outdoors, is still forbidden till June 2. We’d be wise to abide by this order and encourage others to do the same because Ontario and Canada are not out of the woods yet!

India’s COVID-19 tsunami is a perfect example of the consequences of complacency and callousness where large outdoor gatherings became superspreaders that  overwhelmed their health care system. 

Given the beautiful weather, it’s going to be harder to resist the urge to gather with our loved ones outdoors. But congregating this weekend when we are so close to the finish line could mean a huge set back and a longer lockdown. After all, our health care system has come dangerously close to being overwhelmed. 

But we can’t afford another shutdown mentally, medically or economically!!!

Historically, Ontario has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases after every long weekend. So, officials expecting the worst if restrictions were eased held off and are begging Ontarians to hang on just a little bit longer. 

Reactions to the Ford government’s continued curbs even on outdoor activities have been mixed. While many Ontarians understand the need to exercise caution, some are fed up with the long lockdown and might make their own decisions about whether to gather or not. 

This could be our undoing! A few infectious disease experts are of the opinion that opening up a few outdoor activities with prescribed safety guidelines might have prevented the indoor gatherings that could take place irrespective of the shutdown. I’m not so sure this would have prevented much, given that good judgement seems to take a holiday on long weekends. 

So, while there will always be a few bad apples who have selfish reasons for not following the rules, let’s be mindful that our health system is counting on the majority of us to do what’s right.  

Let’s make this personal – I wouldn’t want to be turned away from a hospital or shipped to one that is far away because there was no room! Most people wouldn’t want that for themselves or their families. It’s traumatic and also unfair because it’s avoidable.

Over the past week, I’ve talked to several friends who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 or been infected by the coronavirus themselves. They’re definitely not thinking about gathering with anyone outside their households this weekend.

Devastated families are cautioning people against getting complacent because their loved ones were infected by members of the household. One of the hardest things to deal with is knowing that the infection which proved to be fatal came from you, they all told me. 

Even individuals who were not hospitalized and recovered at home have become fearful of going out. And it’s because they got infected despite following the masking and social distancing protocols. It could have been from an asymptomatic carrier or a callous one, they say.

Perhaps the biggest concern this weekend is the complacency that comes with getting vaccinated.

Getting one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet a safe pass for gathering with people from multiple households. You could still contract the coronavirus and transmit it to a vulnerable person. 

Should you indulge yourself, remember all protocols for social distancing including not sharing food and drink remain in place. In my humble opinion, it makes little sense to picnic outdoors given these restrictions.

Yes, it sucks that we are being sequestered for another Victoria Day weekend but it’s a small price to pay if we can keep our eye on the bigger picture – a less restrictive  summer.

Let’s break the trend of a spike in COVID-19 cases after every long weekend by avoiding gatherings with people from different households. The opportunity it affords for a more carefree summer makes it so worth it! Responsible behaviour holds the silver lining of getting back to doing all the things we enjoy with all the people we love! 




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