State of emergency and stay-at-home order
The Provincewide Shutdown (Government of Ontario) remains in effect.
On January 12, 2021, Ontario declared a province-wide state of emergency (Government of Ontario). A stay-at-home order is in effect requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise, or for essential work.
Enhanced public health and workplace safety measures (Government of Ontario) are also in effect and are anticipated to be in place until at least February 11, 2021.
Locally, we have seen very few cases among school-aged children and at this time the benefits to in-person learning outweigh the risks. We are fortunate that schools remain open for in-person learning in Sudbury and districts. As always, through case and contact management, we monitor our local situation and context to inform our decisions and recommendations.
To continue to keep students, staff, and communities safe, the following new health and safety measures will be put in place for in-person learning:
- masking for Grades 1-3 and requirements for mask-wearing outdoors
- enhanced screening protocols
- expanded targeted testing
What’s on this page?
What does it mean to be COVID-safe?
Being COVID-safe means assessing your actions, thinking things through, and taking deliberate precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Making informed choices will help to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. To reduce your risks and stay COVID-safe, always follow public health recommendations and avoid the three C’s (Health Canada) as much as possible; closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact.
Avoid closed spaces, crowded places, close contact
You are more likely to contract and/or spread the virus if you are indoors, especially in closed spaces with poor ventilation. Enjoying activities outdoors or in large open areas is a COVID-safe way to get out and participate in your community.
Areas that don’t have large numbers or people gathered are a lower risk option when considering where to spend time. Going out during off-peak times is a COVID-safe way to limit the number of people you are interacting with and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Only allow close contact like shaking hands and hugging with members of your household. Keep a physical distance of at least 2 metres from everyone else. A physical distance of 2 metres is about the length of one hockey stick. If you are unable to maintain your physical distance, wear a mask or face covering for added protection.
How can you be COVID-safe? (Rules to live by)
With so many announcements about COVID-19—from stages of reopening to personal precautions—it can be hard to know what rules are currently in place.
The following COVID-Rules-to-Live-By will keep us going for the long haul and will go a long way to protect our health, our health care system, our schools, and our jobs and economy.
1. Stick to your household contacts
As of Saturday, October 3, 2020, at 12:01 a.m, the Government of Ontario is pausing social circles and 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.
2. Keep 2 metres distance from anyone not in your household contacts
Continue to practise physical distancing in all settings. For example, people at your table in restaurants and bars must be those in your household. Stay 2 metres away from everyone else, especially when it’s not possible to cover your face.
3. Use your face covering in enclosed indoor public spaces and when you can’t keep 2 metres distance outdoors
Keep a face covering (i.e. mask, scarf, bandana, etc.) with you so you can use it when you need it.
4. Avoid gatherings of any size
Provincial gathering limits may vary, but public health measures stay the same. Ask yourself if the gathering is necessary and if so, assess your risk and determine how you can make the activity safer.
5. Limit non-essential travel
Area residents are being exposed to the virus through travel outside our region. Ask yourself if the travel is necessary and if so, plan ahead on how you will keep COVID-safe.
6. Wash your hands
Wash your hands often and when visibly dirty, for 15 seconds. Make a habit of carrying hand sanitizer with you.
7. Stay home when ill
The easiest way to reduce transmission is to stay home. If you have a COVID-19 symptom, get tested.
8. Get tested
If you have a COVID-19 symptom, if you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through your work, contact an assessment centre and get tested. Remember, you can still be infected after a negative test. A negative result should not be treated as a free pass to let your guard down. Continue to take precautions.
9. Work remotely
Continue to work remotely, where possible. Reducing our time in the workplace reduces the possibility of introducing the virus to new environments. If you cannot work remotely, follow public health guidance for workplaces.
10. Practise kindness, patience, and gratitude—we are all in this together
Changing our behaviour and doing things in new ways takes planning and practice. Think ahead. Assess your risk and live by the rules.
These COVID-rules-to-live-by are simple yet powerful actions that will get us through this pandemic safely.
Changing our behaviour and doing things in new ways takes planning and practice. Think ahead. Assess your risk and live by the rules. The Top-10-COVID-Rules-to-Live-By are simple yet powerful actions that will get us through this pandemic safely. Learn more about each of the rules and download our 11 x 17″ poster (PDF, 607 KB).
Your actions matter
Your actions matter to keep yourself and others COVID-safe. It is important to think ahead and understand risks for COVID-19. Risk levels may vary based on activity.
Reduce your risk by connecting closely only with people living in your own household. Keep a distance of 2 metres and wear a mask or face covering with everyone else. Consider participating in lower-risk activities and following public health tips for going out safely (Health Canada).
Think about the risks
COVID-19 is still circulating at different levels throughout the community and the province. To protect yourself and others, the safest options are to avoid non-essential travel, and as much as possible, limit outings to essentials like going to work or school, picking up groceries, attending a medical appointment, or engaging in outdoor physical activity. For all outings, continue to practise COVID-safe behaviours like distancing and wearing a face covering.
Here are a few examples of lower risk activities you may choose to do:
- Going for a walk in your neighbourhood
- Backyard BBQ with your family
- Visiting community parks and beaches with public health measures
- Sightseeing in your personal vehicle
- Visiting family members outdoors while practicing physical distancing and wearing a face covering and careful handwashing
Some higher risk activities include:
- Gathering at indoor spaces such as movie theatres, restaurants, and bars
- Crowded public transportation
- Indoor parties
We recognize that some activities are not optional. It’s important to continue to follow public health measures by washing your hands, keeping a distance of 2 metres, and wearing a mask or face covering when doing essential activities such as:
- Grocery shopping
- Getting the mail
- Going to the pharmacy
- Visiting a health care provider
- Commuting to work using public transportation
- Essential travel for work
If you get symptoms, even mild ones, do not participate in any activities and make an appointment to get tested.
Safe Holidays and celebrations
Staying connected with loved ones and friends is important but COVID-19 does not take holidays. While we continue to navigate a global pandemic, celebrations have to look a little different. When planning, hosting, or attending a holiday celebration think about how you can modify your activities in a COVID-safe way.
- Consider the current situation of COVID-19 in your area when planning your events or gatherings.
- Use local public health guidance to make the safest decision.
- Recognize that public health measures are adjusted based on evolving situations across the province and region.
- Stay informed to know whether you should postpone, cancel, or limit your gathering.
At this time, you should only have close contact to the people you live with, even when celebrating or recognizing occasions when you would normally gather with others.
Limiting contacts and in-person interactions reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. While indoor gatherings are not permitted, if you choose to gather outdoors, keep in mind the following tips to reduce risk:
- Limit close contact to members of your household.
- Limit outdoor organized events or private gatherings to 10 people. Stick with members of your household for indoor activities.
- Keep two metres distance between people outside of your household and wear a face covering if distancing is not possible.
- Do not attend the gathering if you have any symptoms or if you are self-isolating.
- Keep a guest list in case it is needed for contact tracing.
- If food or drinks are served:
- Avoid buffet-style food service and plan how to physically distance while distributing and cleaning up food.
- Serve food on individual plates to prevent guests from passing and touching the same objects.
- Have everyone wash their hands before and after eating.
- Consider participating in virtual events or not attending at all, especially if you are 70 years or older, are immunocompromised, or have underlying medical conditions.
Holiday Season Safety (Christmas, Hannukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice)
Many traditional holiday celebrations pose a higher risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. This holiday season it’s more important than ever to take steps to be COVID-safe and limit the spread. Follow provincial (Government of Ontario) and local recommendations to celebrate safely this winter.
There are many things you can do to limit the spread of COVID-19 while shopping this year.
- shop online at your favourite local store
- consider curb side pick-up from local businesses
- check for extended store hours and off-peak times to avoid crowds
Thinking about holiday travel? Be aware that COVID-19 is still circulating at different levels around the province. The safest options are to stay in the area of your home community or region and consider non-travel related celebrations. Avoid travel from areas of higher virus transmission to areas of lower transmission (for example from Yellow-Protect to Green-Prevent).
For those who need, or choose, to travel:
- practise physical distancing
- wear a mask when distancing isn’t possible
- wash your hands frequently
- do not travel if you are sick and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19
- monitor yourself for symptoms when you travel and when you return
- self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada if you have travelled internationally
For anyone travelling this holiday season, talk with your family about what you have been doing in the 14 days before travelling. Try to reduce your number of close contacts for the two weeks before you go and after you return. Think about how you can celebrate with loved ones in a way that protects everyone.
The best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to celebrate the holidays with members of your household. If you live alone, you can consider having mutually exclusive close contact with one other group of household members. Reduce the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by limiting non-essential travel. If you have an overnight guest during the holidays, here are a few tips to reduce risk of spreading the virus:
- Remind guests who are sick to stay home, before they travel. Plan a virtual visit or reschedule the visit instead. If anyone in your household is unwell or self-isolating, do not have visitors. Reschedule for another time.
- Have a plan for self-isolation and how to seek testing in case you or your guests experience any symptoms.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in kitchens, bathrooms, or other rooms you share.
- Maintain 2 metres (six feet) from anyone who is not a household contact. If distancing is difficult, wear a face covering.
Celebrating at school
Celebrating together is an important way to promote connectedness at school. Consider the following ideas to make sure your classroom activities are limited to individual cohorts and are COVID-safe.
- Skip the potluck this year and ensure students and staff do not share food. Encourage everyone to bring their own healthy holiday snack to enjoy on the day of your event.
- In the spirit of the season, compile each student’s favourite festive recipe, memory, or tradition. Share the collection electronically with participants and their families.
- Continue celebrations from years past while following the public health measures. For example, host a festive sweater contest, or complete a holiday craft.
- Consider putting on a physically distanced holiday concert. For students attending school in person, have each classroom pre-record their routine. If you support a virtual classroom, have your students record their screen or ask them to submit a video they made. Combine all pre-recorded performances for the school community to enjoy.
Workplace and office celebrations
When socializing and connecting with your colleagues this holiday season, remember to stay COVID-safe. Consider the following when planning activities for your workplace:
- Plan for virtual or online events. We strongly recommend that you do not organize or attend in-person events.
- Be creative. Consider alternatives to traditional celebrations like virtual holiday coffee break, festive sweater photo submissions, or collect money for donation to a local charity instead of exchanging gifts.
- Avoid holiday gatherings in the workplace and discourage employees from hosting one themselves.
- Have employees use the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 screening tool and follow guidelines for hosting gatherings if you celebrate during work hours.
- Remember to stay home if you are ill, even if your symptoms are mild. If you recently had a negative COVID-19 test or are awaiting COVID-19 test results, stay home, too.
Find ways to limit the spread of the virus and have a happy holiday season with public health measures in place.
Thinking about your annual holiday photo with Santa? This year, it will likely look a little different. We encourage you to mark the occasion while being COVID-safe. Consider the following activities as possible alternatives this year:
- Have a member of your household dress as Santa to take a photo with your little ones.
- Connect with a local photographer to organize a socially distant photoshoot.
- Encourage your children to engage with Santa by mailing a letter to the North Pole.
- Participate in virtual interactions with Santa.
Compassion and kindness
We can all agree that COVID-19 has been hard for everyone, and we also know that some groups feel it more than others. This includes people in our communities living on low income, having precarious employment, and having difficulty finding safe and affordable housing.
The holidays are a time to think about how we can make a difference in the lives of others. This year consider a new tradition like donating money, time or items to a charity, cause or organization rather than giving gifts. Your kindness and compassion can go a long way.
If you are facing challenges this year, including being alone for the holiday season, there are a number of agencies and resources that can help you.
Stay informed and be prepared
Canadians’ best defense against COVID-19 is to stay informed and be prepared. Anyone can post anything online. It’s important to think critically about posts to decide if it’s truthful and safe. Here are some tips to help you decide whether information is worth considering:
- Check that the information came from a trusted source.
- Check what public health officials and the government are saying.
- Read the entire story or post. Sometimes headlines can be misleading.
The following are examples credible sources of information.
For more information and credible resources, visit our COVID-19 resources page.
This item was last modified on January 14, 2021