Christmas in B.C. under COVID-19 will be different, but Santa 'probably has immunity'

Global BC reporter Richard Zussman asks provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry if British Columbians will be able to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season this year. Henry says it will depend on our community but we can find ways to come together that are safe for everyone.

It’s no surprise that many people across B.C. are now turning their attention to Christmas and the questions surrounding Christmas during a COVID-19 pandemic.

Can families get together to celebrate Christmas?

Can kids have photos with Santa’s helpers at the mall or at an event?

B.C. health officials say while Christmas will look different this year, some details are yet to be determined.

“There’s not going to be a vaccine here that’s going to save the day by Christmas,” B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.

With parts of B.C. under strict new measures until Nov. 23, Henry said it will depend on how much spread of the virus officials are still seeing as we end November and head into December.

“We can find ways to celebrate, to have family come together in a way that’s safe for everybody,” she added.

When it comes to Santa however, Henry is sure he “probably has immunity” from the coronavirus.

“We’ll look at how we can facilitate him. I think he’ll be washing his hands a lot and he probably won’t be eating cookies and milk in every house this year, but we’ll find ways of making it work.”

It has not yet been announced if Santa’s helpers in malls across B.C. will be able to go ahead and visit with children.

Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd. announced Friday that it is cancelling in-person Santa Claus visits across Canada, which does affect the Pacific Centre Mall in Vancouver and Richmond Centre Mall.

Some malls have announced they are holding in-person visits with Santa — with safety protocols in place.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said action needs to be taken immediately to preserve any chance Canadians will be able to gather over the holidays, “even in a restrained way.”

Trudeau told Global News that, as he said in September, “we still have a shot at Christmas.” However, time is running out.

“It depends on what people do right now. We’re seeing those numbers spike in the wrong direction and if people act now, we can stop that,” he said on The Morning Show with Devon Peacock on Global News Radio 980 CFPL in London, Ont.

Read more:
Trudeau says holiday gatherings are on the line unless people act now

Back in B.C., Health Minister Adrian Dix said what they do know about the upcoming holidays is there won’t be any indoor parties in common rooms or buildings to celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s.

“So, every single person, I’m asking every single person to reflect on ways that we can make this the best Diwali, the best Christmas, the best New Year’s, the best Hanukkah, the best whichever day is of significance to you, without coming together in the ways we have before, but appreciating what these events can mean to us in our lives,” Dix said.

Fraser Health is asking everyone to celebrate any milestones at home and only with the members of their immediate household, including outdoor gatherings.

They are encouraging everyone to wear a mask when shopping and to stay home if they are feeling unwell.

More British Columbians are now hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any time in the pandemic so far.

At her Thursday briefing, Henry said 155 people were in hospital with the virus. The previous record of 149 was recorded in the first week of April.

The province added 1,130 cases over two days, 536 on Wednesday and 594 on Thursday — the latter also an all-time record.

According to the latest modelling numbers, the province could see more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19  every day over the next two weeks if people don’t cut down on contacts now.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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