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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
adults waving baloons from car for pandemic safe birthday

Travelling and Visiting

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) will be moving back to Green-Prevent level of the provincial reopening Framework on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

Residents of HPEPH are commended for their ongoing perseverance and efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Thanks to these efforts, many businesses and establishments are able to re-open, with restrictions in place. However, this is not a return to normal. In order to maintain our progress, all residents are asked to remain thoughtful about daily choices, as individual efforts can make huge impact to stop the spread of illness.

Please carefully consider decisions to gather with others. Abide by gathering restrictions that are in effect in the region. Always maintain physical distancing from those outside your household, and avoid travel between different regions of Ontario.

Determine your level of risk

Please remember public health advice and choose lower risk activities to help you, and those you love, stay safe. Ask yourself:

  • Are you planning to travel outside of the region? Please avoid travelling to or from areas with higher rates of COVID-19.
  • Are there people in your household, or that you have close contact with, that are at a high risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19, that you could unintentionally infect?
  • Are you able and prepared to self-isolate for 14 days if required (this means staying home from work or school and keeping your distance from other household members)?
  • Will you be prepared to identify any close contacts that might be involved in the celebration if you, or someone in your family, tests positive?
  • Where will the event be held? Outdoor events are lower risk than indoors.
  • Will there be alcohol? Consuming alcohol, even small amounts, can lower our inhibitions and we may take fewer precautions to keep ourselves and other safe.

Gatherings

Low risk gatherings

Consider safer ways to celebrate:

  • Consider outdoor events that do not involve a lot of physical contact and where guests can physically distance, such as skating, hiking, or snowshoeing.
  • Connect virtually to enjoy a meal together with family, friends or co-workers.
  • Enjoy an intimate celebration with members of your household.
  • Leave gifts or baked goods at your family’s doorstep for contact-less delivery.
  • Donate to your favourite holiday charities.

Moderate risk gatherings

We recommend that you only be in close contact with people within your own household. Even if you are friends with someone, the risk of transmitting COVID-19 still exists and is not reduced because you know each other.

The following tips can help keep a celebration with individuals outside your household at a moderate risk.

  • Gather outside. Holding events outdoors makes it easier to keep your distance and also reduces risk of transmission.
  • Avoid hosting guests from areas with high rates of COVID-19.
  • Make sure people from different households can be physically distanced. Arrange tables and chairs in advance so people can sit separately. Avoid any physical contact during greetings.
  • Ask guests to take a COVID-19 self assessment before attending.
  • Keep celebrations as small as possible and keep your close contacts consistent. Avoid participating in multiple gatherings with different groups of people throughout the holidays.
  • To minimize the number of people touching serving utensils, have one person serve the food (after washing hands thoroughly and while wearing a face covering). Or you might choose to order in take-out, pre-portioned food, or have guests bring their own food.
  • Ensure guests wear face coverings when physical distancing is difficult.
  • Ensure there is hand sanitizer available for people to use frequently.

High risk gatherings

Participating in any indoor gathering with any individuals outside of your household can increase your risk of being exposed to, or spreading COVID-19. If you still choose to have a small indoor gathering with people outside your household, here are some tips to reduce your risk.

  • Ask guests to take a COVID-19 self assessment before attending.
  • If you must travel or host guests from out of town, self-quarantine and have them self-quarantine for 14 days prior to the visit to reduce potential exposure.
  • Ask the host about the COVID-19 precautions they are taking so that you can make an informed decision about your risk in attending.
  • Choose to attend only small gatherings. As a guest, you can be fined for attending a gathering which exceeds the legal limit.
  • Keep your close contacts consistent. Avoid participating in multiple indoor gatherings.
  • Maintain physical distance from those not in your own household. This means keeping chairs and tables at least 2m apart for different households. Step away, or go outdoors, if it gets crowded.
  • Bring your own hand sanitizer. Practice good hand hygiene using hand sanitizer or washing your hands frequently.
  • Bring your own face covering to wear when physical distancing is difficult.
  • To minimize the number of people touching serving utensils, have one person serve the food (after washing hands thoroughly and while wearing a face covering). Or you might choose to order in take-out, pre-portioned food, or have guests bring their own food.
  • Ensure there is plenty of soap or hand sanitizer on hand, and use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
  • Limit contact with high-touch surfaces or shared items. If possible, clean and disinfect these surfaces and shared items between uses.

Travel

Traveling in Ontario & Canada

We recommend that you avoid all non-essential travel outside of the region.  However, we understand that connection is important for overall health, including mental health. Therefore, if you do decide to travel to be with your family, please consider the following travel-related information: 

  • To reduce your risk of unintentionally spreading illness to others, self-quarantine for 14 days prior to your travel to reduce your potential exposure.
  • Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and do not travel if you are sick. 
  • Remember that COVID-19 can have minimal or no symptoms and yet be transmissible to others. If you have been in close contact with others without physical distancing and wearing a mask in the two weeks before your visit, you could be putting your loved ones at risk. 
  • Remember that older individuals, and those with chronic health conditions, may be more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 related complications. 
  • Consider the level of COVID-19 in both your community and your destination’s community, as well as any risks and travel restrictions. 
  • Depending on where you are travelling to/from, you may have to self-isolate upon your arrival and return. Visit the Government of Canada’s compiled list of Canadian provincial and territorial COVID-19 information page and global travel advisories.  
  • If you’ve travelled outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days upon your return. 
  • Every family situation is different, and personal risk factors need to be considered. Families who live in crowded households, and households with individuals who are older or have chronic health conditions, may be more impacted by the actions of other family members.  
  • Register on our Digital Guestbook so we can contact you if required for contact tracing, or to share local health information updates.

International Travel

If you have returned from travel anywhere outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days. To limit the spread of COVID-19, travellers entering Canada must follow the rules set out by the emergency orders under the Quarantine Act.

If symptoms of COVID-19 develop while in self-isolation, individuals are strongly advised to contact their local COVID-19 Assessment Centre to get tested. If you require medical attention contact your health care provider, TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or for a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately.

Giving Back to Your Community

It is the perfect time to think about those who are struggling. Suggest to colleagues and family members to donate money, gifts, food, or other supplies to local charities, such as filling a basket for your local food bank.

How to prepare items for donation:

  • Contact the charity or organization to learn what items are in need or being accepted. Making donations in a contact-less manner (e.g., cash, gift cards) can be a way to support local charities, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
  • Try to choose items that come in packaging or have hard or non-permeable surfaces (such as plastic) and are easy to clean and disinfect.
  • Wash or sanitize hands before handling donation items.
  • Wipe down the item, package, or non-perishable food package with an approved low level disinfectant (you can find the list at Canada.ca)  if possible, prior to taking to a donation centre.
  • Avoid participating in gift donating if you are feeling sick.

After receiving a donated item:

  • Wash or sanitize hands before and after handling donated items.
  • Wash clothing according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry completely.
  • Toys with hard surfaces should be cleaned with an approved low-level disinfectant, and soft surface toys should be washed if possible or cleaned using soap and water, or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces.

Birthdays, Retirements, Graduations or Anniversaries

Choose these safer ways to mark special events:

  • Join your family and friends online and enjoy a meal virtually.
  • Send a video to your loved one with a celebratory message.
  • Make a gift or card and put it in the mailbox as a nice surprise.
  • Arrange an online party with family and friends to celebrate your event
  • Plan an intimate celebration with members of your household.
  • Celebrate outdoors with a hike or a family walk in the park and remember to maintain physical distance and wear a mask when you are around people from outside of your household.

Learn more about Social Gatherings and Physical Distancing.

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Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is in Green-Prevent level of the provincial reopening Framework since February 10, 2021.

For details regarding restrictions and precautions applicable to the Green-Prevent level of the province’s reopening Framework, please visit Ontario.ca.

In addition to restrictions outlined by the province, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH, has implemented a Class 22 Order, which includes additional precautions in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties.

HPEPH will continue to update hpePublicHealth.ca to include information for local businesses and residents. Local business owners/operators who are unable to find answers to their questions on our web page are invited to complete our online inquiry form.

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.