Megan Scheffers waited till July to have fun Christmas together with her children after the COVID-19 pandemic stored them aside final winter, however she says adorning sweet log cabins simply wasn’t the identical within the lifeless of summer season.
She hoped to make up for missed traditions this yr as two of her three kids booked mid-December tickets to fly to Nova Scotia from the Netherlands, the place they dwell with their father.
However because the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus threatens to upend the vacation season, Scheffers stated she’s fearful her 12-year-old and nine-year-old might not make it to Halifax to open their presents.
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“The entire decorations, they’re nonetheless packed away, as a result of I wished to drag them out after they arrive so we will do it collectively,” Scheffers stated.
“Final yr, I didn’t even put a tree up. Is that this going to be yr quantity two with out a tree ? and with out my kids?”
Scheffers is amongst many Canadians whose vacation plans hold within the steadiness as mounting anxiousness in regards to the Omicron variant dampens pleasure for a vaccine-protected comeback of Christmas merriment.
Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of group well being and epidemiology at College of Saskatchewan, stated winter festivities might should be scaled again as Omicron stokes issues in regards to the security of vacation journey and gatherings.
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However with a lot nonetheless unknown in regards to the virus mutation, Muhajarine stated there’s nonetheless hope of salvaging the vacation spirit, encouraging revellers to see how the scenario unfolds earlier than scrapping their celebrations.
“I believe it’s prudent to take a extra cautious, measured method,” he stated. “However wait and see nearer to Christmas Day or New Yr’s Day earlier than you finalize these plans.”
Some scientists have prompt Omicron could possibly be extra contagious than different strains of the virus, however Muhajarine stated it may take weeks to find out the implications of the brand new variant, together with whether or not it causes extreme sickness and whether or not it may overcome immunity offered by vaccination or an infection.
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He added that whereas Omicron has been linked to a dramatic surge in COVID-19 instances in South Africa, it’s too early to foretell how the variant will unfold in Canada, which has a a lot greater price of vaccination.
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What is obvious is that the uncertainty may pose issues for these planning to spend the vacations overseas now that Canada and a bunch of different international locations have tightened border measures in response to the variant’s unfold, stated Muhajarine, warning that worldwide travellers danger getting tangled in testing and quarantine necessities to succeed in their vacation spot.
Visiting household and buddies inside Canada is a safer wager, he stated, however he prompt that guests take fast antigen assessments earlier than they arrive and after they depart as an added precaution.
Muhajarine stated hosts also needs to be ready to rearrange their Christmas dinner tables as provinces roll out their COVID-19 insurance policies for the vacation season.
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New Brunswick entered the primary part of its so-called winter motion plan on Sunday, which permits for indoor family gatherings of as much as 20 folks, however the province has suggested towards inviting people who’ve chosen to not get vaccinated.
In the meantime, Ontario officers have indicated that they intend to stay with their 25-person restrict on indoor get-togethers. Quebec is predicted to problem its vacation suggestions this week, however Premier Francois Legault has signalled that he hopes to extend indoor gathering limits to twenty or 25 folks, up from the present cap of 10.
For his half, Muhajarine endorsed much more intimate celebrations with single-digit visitor lists, and making full vaccination a situation of attendance, to cut back the danger of constructing this Christmas a cherished one’s final.
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“That’s how we will have a protected and sensible Christmas this yr, and hopefully, subsequent yr it is going to be totally different.”
If that sentiment sounds acquainted, it might be as a result of it echoes a standard chorus amongst public well being officers who for almost two years have been entreating Canadians to make short-term sacrifices within the service of a brighter future.
Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at College of Toronto Scarborough, worries that the emergence of the Omicron variant simply in time for the vacations might mark a tipping level in folks’s persistence for such guarantees, hardening pandemic fatigue into “despair.”
“We thought we had been lastly going to get the possibility to have a Christmas. If that will get taken away from us, I believe it’s a bit of additional insult to the harm,” stated Joordens.
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“I believe we’re beginning to really feel a touch of those depressive emotions that nothing we will do actually adjustments something, and that’s a scary highway to begin happening.”
Alexandra Martino, a 29-year-old social media supervisor in London, stated she’s decided to take care of her vacation cheer as she prepares to fly throughout the pond to see her household in Toronto for the primary time since final Christmas. This regardless of realizing there’s an opportunity that Omicron may usher in a brand new wave of vacation disruptions within the week main as much as her flight.
“I simply have to remain constructive and optimistic, and simply preserve considering, ‘I’m completely going house. I’m completely going house,”’ till one thing exhibits up and says, ‘You truly can’t.’“
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