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Seven steps for a safe long-weekend in the time of COVID-19

July 30, 2020
Feature Stories

It’s the height of summer, and the eve of one of our precious long weekends. We all wish we could press the pandemic pause button and enjoy this weekend the way we normally would. But we have to remember that COVID-19 is still in our community. It hasn’t gone anywhere. Our recent case numbers show us that.

Letting our guard down could undo the hard-won progress we’ve made together to flatten the curve. The good news is we can get the most out of this long weekend without putting the health of our community at risk. It’s a matter of sticking to protective measures, opting for safe activities, and balancing what we may want in the short term against what we need in the long term (a nice flat curve).

Flowers, sunglasses and a surgical mask arranged on a yellow background to look like a face.

Here’s your guide for reducing the spread of COVID-19 this long weekend:

1. Keep to your bubble

This long weekend is definitely the time to rest, relax and recharge and have fun, but it’s not the time to expand our social circles.

Having a bubble means keeping our social circles to the same 10 people.

Seeing friends and loved ones is important for our mental health. However, keeping our social circles small helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. When we do see friends and family, let’s do so with caution, assess the risks, and connect virtually whenever possible. It’s hard, but steering clear of the people we care about who are high-risk is an act of kindness.

2. Wear a mask

Whether you are in an indoor public space or outside in an area where physical distancing can’t be maintained, wear a mask. In additional to physical distancing, wearing a mask is especially important when you are around people outside of your 10-person bubble.

Wearing a mask does not replace other protective measures such as physical distancing and hand washing.

3. Wash your hands

Frequent handwashing is key to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Whether you’re opting for a staycation or venturing out this weekend, remember to wash or sanitize your hands often (especially before you eat) and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

4. Stay home if you are sick

If you aren’t feeling well, stay home! Check out Ottawa Public Health’s guide to who should get tested for COVID-19.

5. Plan ahead

Heading to the cottage? Going on a daytrip? Make a list of what you’ll need on hand to stay safe while in transit (extra masks and hand sanitizer) and make sure everyone in your group has their own snacks and water bottles.

Plan your activities, too. If you want to support a local business and eat on a patio, call ahead and make a reservation to confirm your spot and limit time spent waiting with others in a crowd. You can also pre-order meals for takeout and enjoy them at home or in a park where it may be easier to physically distance from others.

A group of young people wearing masks enjoy a get-together on a patio on a summer day.

6. Get outside!

We know that good air circulation helps reduce the spread of any respiratory virus. And as if we needed any more excuses to get outside this weekend, being outdoors and staying active are some of the best ways to relieve stress and support our mental health.

Whenever possible, choose activities that allow for physical distancing, such as:

  • Golfing, playing tennis, playing catch, kicking a ball, flying a kite
  • Having a picnic or going for a hike with people in your bubble

Two young sisters with brown hair play soccer in a City park.

Check out the guidelines for the use of City parks, and visit Ottawa Public Health’s guide to being active during COVID-19.

In case of a scorcher, we’ve got you covered with tips to beat the heat.

7. Eat smart, drink smarter

If your long weekend plans include dinner with friends, think casual outdoor barbeque with your bubble, not intimate sit-down dinner with long-lost pals. Spread out as much as possible while eating and opt for individual portions rather than sharing platters.

If you’re partying and drinking this weekend, you’re likelier to let your guard down when it comes to protective measures such as masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene.

The pandemic fatigue is real, but we are still in the midst of it. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize and enjoy our down time in a way that keeps our community safe.

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