Even if vaccinated, additional precautions are needed this holiday season.

Doctors Manitoba is urging everyone to be cautious this holiday season, recognizing both the current level of risk from COVID-19 and the lack of hospital resources across the province.

Holiday traditions are important and we’ve all worked hard to be able to gather this year, but this doesn’t mean we’re ready for a full return to normal just yet,” said Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba. Our hospitals are already full, there is a substantial level of COVID-19 spreading in our communities, and Omicron has barely arrived in Manitoba. Please be cautious and reduce the number of households you are gathering with this holiday season. If you are hosting or attending a gathering, please follow our tips to reduce the risks to you and others around you.”

The Doctors Manitoba #CelebrateSafe campaign offers practical suggestions for holiday gatherings this year with the goal of reducing the number of contacts people have while adding additional layers of protection for gatherings and events that are held.

The tips for both hosts and guests can be found at Doc​tors​Man​i​to​ba​.ca/​c​e​l​e​b​r​a​t​esafe.

For hosts, the guidance includes:

  • Planning smaller gatherings with vaccinated guests, and improving ventilation by opening windows or doors. 
  • Holding all or a portion of the event outdoors if possible.
  • Assessing the risks and considering additional layers, such as encouraging guests to wear masks and physically distance.
  • Making hand sanitizer available.
  • Removing ice from your side walk and ensuring guests have a safe way to get home after.

Hosts are encouraged to share ground rules with guests before they arrive. A sample message is available that hosts can copy, paste and edit for their holiday gathering invitations.

For guests, the tips include:

  • Staying home if you have any symptoms, even if mild.
  • Reducing the number of gatherings you attend this holiday season.
  • Avoiding large, indoor, crowded gatherings.
  • Bringing a mask along and physically distancing when possible.
  • Getting vaccinated and boosted as soon as eligible. 
  • Considering additional precautions if you are at increased risk for severe illness.
  • Taking a rapid test before attending.

Rapid COVID-19 tests add another important additional layer of protection to help avoid spreading COVID-19,” explained Dr. Thompson. These tests have been made widely available in most provinces for free, and we hope to see Manitoba adopt this approach too.”

Manitobans can find additional information about safe holiday gatherings, including what makes gatherings riskier and resources to learn more, at the #CelebrateSafe campaign website.

The COVID-19 and hospital capacity situations can escalate rapidly,” Dr. Thompson added. Please monitor for changes to public health advice and pandemic restrictions, and adjust your holiday plans accordingly.”