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Safer celebrations and ceremonies

With restrictions in place and COVID-19 still a concern, our holiday celebrations will look different this year.
Last updated: January 7, 2021 at 3:00 PM

Key points:

  • The holidays are traditionally a time for us to gather with family and friends near and far.
  • This holiday season will be different, but we can still stay socially connected to one another even if we stay physically distant.
  • Celebrate in-person with your household or core bubble only.

How to spend time with friends and family over the holidays

  • You should keep holiday gatherings and celebrations within your immediate household to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you live alone, you can spend time with your core bubble. This means you and the same one or two other people.
  • In BC, an order of the Provincial Health Officer limits social gatherings of any kind. British Columbians must limit all social gatherings to people they live with. 
  • All events and in-person religious gatherings and worship services are also suspended. These orders are in effect until February 5, 2021.
  • Plan lower-risk activities, like:
    • indoor celebrations with immediate household members only
    • charity food drives and donations that have COVID-19 safety plans
    • virtual holiday and religious celebrations
    • drive-in ceremonies and events
    • drop-off or physically distanced doorstep gift exchanges
    • a walk in the neighbourhood to see light displays.

No matter how you plan to celebrate the holiday season, show kindness and respect to others by:

  • wearing a non-medical mask
  • staying home and away from others if you feel sick.
  • maintaining physical distancing of 2-metres with people from outside of your immediate household
  • washing or sanitizing your hands often and practicing good hygiene.

Spending time outdoors

The outdoors has been a refuge for many during the pandemic. Canadians have been getting outside for exercise, lower-risk socializing, and positive mental health and well-being.

  • This can still be the case even in colder temperatures, as long as we continue practicing physical distancing and other public health measures.
  • You can go for a walk with someone outside your household, as long as it does not turn into a group of people meeting outside.
  • Part of our Canadian identity and spirit is braving the outdoors in the winter. Let's roll down our sleeves, put on our toques, mittens and masks, and keep COVID-19 outside of our homes.

Mental well-being and the holidays

Feelings of stress are common during the holiday season and may be worse because of the pandemic. This holiday season you may be experiencing: 

  • worry about finances and gift-giving
  • fear of getting sick with COVID-19 or of making others sick
  • family and friend conflict because of differences in comfort level with gathering
  • sadness about breaking important family and friend traditions or being away from loved ones.

Take care of your mental health. Start coping with your emotions early and acknowledge any negative or overwhelming emotions. These may be feelings of sadness or disappointment about missing a holiday celebrations or religious gathering.

  • Know that it's okay to skip family and friend gatherings to protect yourself, your family and your community.
  • If you live alone, consider spending the holidays with another household.

If you're in crisis, or need urgent medical support, call 911 or your local emergency help line. You can also get support from a local crisis centre, the Canada Suicide Prevention Service (1-833-456-4566), and @KidsHelpPhone.

Travel and the holiday season

  • At this time, all non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province. 
  • You should avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. If you must travel outside Canada during the holidays, check the latest travel advice before you leave to reduce your risk.
  • Consider avoiding all non-essential trips within Canada, especially to areas that may have more COVID-19 spreading in communities.
  • If you live in one of these areas, avoid traveling to gatherings or celebrations outside your community.
  • If you travel within Canada, check to see if there may be additional provincial, territorial and local public health measures at your destination.
  • If you must travel during the holidays, visit to check the latest travel advice before you leave and learn how you can lower your risk. 

Check with the public health authority at your destination for more information on travel and COVID-19 restrictions. Check with local Indigenous communities if you are travelling there. It's also important to consider how you travel.

If you travel by car:

  • travel with your immediate household.
  • avoid long car trips with multiple stops along the way.

If you plan on using public transportation, take additional safety measures:

  • wear a non-medical mask.
  • avoid commuting during peak hours.
  • follow visual cues and signage to ensure physical distancing.

If you have to use a rideshare, taxi or limo service:

  • wear a non-medical mask.
  • keep your window open if possible.
  • sit in the back seat, away from the driver.

If you have to use air travel:

  • avoid layovers if possible.
  • learn about the safety regulations you will be subject to prior to boarding.
  • follow the quarantine measures for both the place you visit and if you are returning to Canada.


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