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UPDATE: October 9, 2020 Keep health and safety top of mind while celebrating Thanksgiving

Posted on Friday October 09, 2020

The City of Orillia is imploring residents and visitors to make health and safety their number one priority this Thanksgiving long weekend.   

With the rise of COVID-19 cases and changes to gathering rules in Ontario, Thanksgiving long weekend must look very different this year. The Province of Ontario has paused social circles and is advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household. 

“Traditionally Thanksgiving is a time for extended families and friends to gather and celebrate all that we are thankful for. Although we don’t want to forego the giving of thanks, we must sacrifice the gathering. The second wave of a global pandemic does not take a break for a holiday,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “Now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant and adhere to the revised gathering restrictions and other COVID-19 prevention measures to protect our families, friends, and community from the potential spread of the virus.” 

For Thanksgiving, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is advising to avoid high-risk activities like attending indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household.

Here are some ways to celebrate Thanksgiving without gathering:

  • Build new traditions by connecting with friends and family outside of your household by calling or video chatting, holding an online dinner party, joining a religious service online or on television, or writing letters or sending a card.
  • Talk with family members about the traditions you are able to continue, like sharing a recipe online, making a video of you singing a traditional song or reading a passage.
  • Get creative with members of your household to start new traditions. 

“All of us have a key role to play to flatten the curve of this second wave. Our behavior this Thanksgiving will affect us for months to come. If we adhere to the COVID-19 measures and restrictions in place now, we may have a chance for a more celebratory Christmas season,” said Mayor Clarke. 

If you are planning to attend or host a gathering, the SMDHU recommends the following: 

  • Outdoor gatherings continue to provide the safest means of socializing.
  • Limit gatherings to your immediate household.
  • If you are hosting people from outside your household, stick to the provincial orders on social gathering size limits (10 people at an indoor event or gathering 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering).
  • Do not gather if you have COVID-19 symptoms, are sick, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Always maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres while gathering with people who are not part of your household.
  • Set out physical distancing guidelines before guests arrive to ensure there is an appropriate amount of space between guests.
  • Ask guests to bring their own supplies including cutlery, glassware, food and drinks.
  • Use caution if providing food, buffet-style food is not recommended. Don’t share food or drinks with others.
  • Provide disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer for guests to use when entering the home or outdoor area and clean and disinfect any shared items.
  • Put out individual towelettes so that everyone uses their own personal piece of paper towel to dry their hands after they've washed them.  

If you are a cottager or visitor coming to Orillia for the long weekend, please continue to practice public health measures, both here and at home. 

For more information visit: 

For more information on the COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Orillia visit: 

For COVID-19 updates from the SMDHU visit:


Mayor Steve Clarke

Brent Thomas
Orillia Fire Chief

Gayle Jackson
Chief Administrative Officer

Jennifer Ruff
Director of Business Development and Communications