No place however residence for the vacations? Canadians torn over Christmas journey with no bending of curve in sight
They say there is no place like home for the holidays.
But in the year of COVID-19, even this poetry can raise fearful questions – whose home? Would your home gathering be limited to your household members? If you live a few provinces away from your parents, is your home still safe for you?
This question is pondered by Greg Kelly, 27, who lives in Squamish, BC and is looking for clear government guidance on whether he and his partner can return to Burlington, Ontario to visit their families. He has a ticket that he booked during a more hopeful time in the pandemic but is ready to cancel anytime.
“It’s almost better for the government to tell me I can’t go anywhere instead of deciding against it and breaking my mother’s heart,” he said.
Canadians are currently facing a patchwork of COVID-19 restrictions as cases rise in almost every province.
Due to the conflicting guidelines between the provinces, some Canadians have become confused about whether to book this home ticket or cancel, especially when the holiday season can add to the feeling of loneliness and tense conversations with family members who interpret COVID-19 guidelines differently and can be awkward.
BC’s current restrictions discourage non-essential travel within the province but will expire on December 7th.
Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford said this week that people should only celebrate Christmas season with people in their own household. Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney said if the number of cases does not fall by mid-December, people will not be allowed to visit people outside of their immediate households during the holiday season.
Meanwhile, Quebec has proposed a complicated “moral contract” that would allow the restrictions on gatherings to be relaxed for four days over the holidays, provided people are quarantined for a week before and after that period.
“It’s almost better for the government to tell me I can’t go anywhere instead of choosing not to and delivering this news to my mother,” said Greg Kelly, pondering whether to go to the Holidays to Ontario can travel home. (Submitted by Greg Kelly)
Kelly said with the number of cases rising, it was “unrealistic” that restrictions could be relaxed by Christmas – and he wished public health officials would let people know what to expect so they can prepare.
“What creates the greatest tension for us right now is the vague instructions we are given and I think they allow people to play too much in the gray area when it comes to travel planning and life planning that are along the way pass home. ” “said Kelly.
“”[And what if] Our families have different COVID concerns about what they can and can’t do. It’s a strange conversation. “
Governments are reluctant to enforce strict rules
These unpleasant discussions and debates between spouses, siblings, parents and friends also take place – on a certain level – at the federal level.
British Columbia Prime Minister John Horgan said last week he was calling on the federal government to restrict non-essential travel between provinces, but said the province would not implement its own restrictions.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that the prospect of a normal Christmas celebration this year was “out of the question” but that he did not want to “lower the federal gavel” on the provinces.
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Catherine Holmen, a Vancouver physics teacher, carefully watches the number of cases in BC and Manitoba rise as she debates whether she can fly to Winnipeg to visit her 66-year-old mother, who lives alone.
The current restrictions on social gatherings in Manitoba mean her mother is in self-isolation – a difficult prospect for many people on vacation.
“She would be completely cut off. I can’t imagine being all alone on Christmas Day,” said Holmen, who said she is trying to balance concerns about loneliness with two different province health guidelines.
“I’m waiting to see what happens to case numbers. If these new restrictions don’t work and get stricter, I would never be the type to disobey a restriction. So if someone said, we think we go further towards a lockdown I think this would play a bigger role in my decision. “
Holmen and Kelly both said that when they travel they would just spend time with their family members and go out of their way to make sure they are as careful as possible – a small compromise in a year when there are so many gathering opportunities were completely off the table.
“There are no parties and gatherings and no turkey dinner with 15 people. Air travel is the only part that I’m not in my circle,” said Holmen.
“And that’s fine. It’s about being with the family.”