Trick-or-treating is back and large Thanksgiving dinners are on again for those fully vaccinated, Ontario's top doctor said Thursday, as the province reported 587 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths.
With the long weekend approaching, Dr. Kieran Moore reiterated that Ontario's gathering limits of 100 outdoors and 25 indoors are still in place.
Here's Moore's advice for Thanksgiving:
No one should attend a gathering if they have even mild symptoms.
Windows should be kept open, if possible.
High-touch surfaces should be cleaned and hand sanitizer should be provided.
If there is a combination of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in the group, attendees should consider keeping masks on indoors, particularly for older people or those with chronic medical conditions.
Moore had touched on some of his recommendations for Thanksgiving earlier this week, saying celebrating indoors and unmasked with a fully vaccinated group is "absolutely appropriate."
As for Halloween, Moore had a few more guidelines:
A costume mask is no substitute for a face covering, but parents might consider incorporating a face mask into their children's costumes.
Doorsteps should not be overcrowded.
Physical distancing should be maintained as much as possible.
Trick-or-treating should be limited to outdoors and interactions should be kept brief.
Hand sanitizer should be used often, especially before and after handling treats.
Shouting should be avoided to reduce the spread of aerosols.
Again, the province's top doctor stressed, anyone with symptoms — even mild — should stay home. For indoor Halloween parties, the guidance for Thanksgiving gatherings applies.
The province's complete list of guidance can be found here.
WATCH | Ontario's top doctor delivers Halloween guidance:
New rules for attending weddings
Moore also indicated Thursday that there have been a number of outbreaks associated with weddings, especially receptions. For that reason, starting Oct. 15, the province will require proof of vaccination or an eligible exception to attend weddings.
The current regulations allowing the unvaccinated to have a negative test ends Tuesday.
Moore also addressed the rising rates of emergency-department visits, which he said have climbed back to around 20,000 per day. "They are probably at their maximum in emergency medicine," he said.
As a result, he said the province is encouraging primary care physicians to supply more direct, in-person care. Moore said the province hasn't put out a directive to physicians, but is encouraging more of a balance between virtual and in-person care.
Meanwhile, the seven-day average of daily cases continued its downward trend that began in early September, falling again to 565.
Ontario: New daily cases of COVID-19
Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the daily provincial update:
Newly reported school-related cases: 121, with 106 in students. Some 780 schools, or 16.2 per cent of Ontario's 4,844 publicly funded schools, currently have at least one confirmed case. Eight schools in the province are closed due to COVID-19.
Patients in ICU with COVID-19: 149, with 102 needing a ventilator to breathe. According to Critical Care Services Ontario, seven new adult patients with COVID-19 were admitted to intensive care units on Wednesday.
Tests completed in the last 24 hours: 37,057.
Provincewide positivity rate: 1.7 per cent.
Active cases: 4,575, down about eight per cent from last Thursday.
Death toll: 9,776.
Vaccinations: 25,240 doses were administered by public health units on Wednesday. About 81.9 per cent of eligible Ontarians aged 12 and older have now had two doses of vaccine.