Stay home: Health unit issues Christmas “travel advisory”


Renfrew County and District’s acting medical officer of health is directing local residents to stay home and avoid holiday travel to COVID hotspots like Toronto, Montreal and even Ottawa this year.

Dr. Robert Cushman announced Friday that he has issued a “travel advisory” for residents of Renfrew County and District to be in effect from now until “the early new year.”

“We all know too well that this virus travels, and travels quickly,” Cushman said in a statement Friday morning.

“Last March cases popped up around the world in weeks. Almost all cases in Renfrew County and District can be traced to travel, folks who came into the region or those who travelled out and returned.

“For example, our two largest outbreaks with 70 or more cases can be attributed to travelers to and from the Southern Ontario and Toronto areas, and then there is our close proximity to Ottawa.”

Cushman said there are a number of communities in the red level issued under the Ontario COVID-19 framework, “that folks frequently travel to including the Toronto and Montreal areas.”

“Red zones in areas of Western Quebec are also problematic and while Ottawa has improved dramatically over the past week, that situation can change quickly with the shopping, celebration and travel risks the Christmas season brings.”

The bottom line, Cushman said, is that this year the holidays need to be spent “at home with members of your household, and travel, which in fact would undermine this recommendation, needs to be suspended.”

“This is going to be a long and tough winter, but the good news is that Health Canada has approved the first vaccine and the roll out will start soon. There is light at the end of the tunnel but in the meantime, we need everybody to do their part.”

The health unit is recommending that families stick to “safer” holiday activities this year, like virtual holiday gatherings with family, friends or co-workers; outdoor holiday activities such as building a snowman or going on a sleigh ride; attending drive-in or drive-through events; and baking holiday treats with your immediate household.

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