A safe festive season

Minden Hills held a Christmas in the Village event Nov. 21.

There was an afternoon gathering followed by a ticketed nighttime tree lighting.

It was strange during these COVID times to see cars parked along the road and people lined up.

There is no doubt that organizers did a good job. They had a fenced in and barricaded area. There was a sign-in table with hand sanitizer. The number of people entering and leaving was tracked. I was told there was someone from the health unit on site. Organizers requested everyone wear masks, and they did. They had pavement markings to ensure social distancing but there were instances where people were not six feet apart as they walked through the outside heritage village.

It was interesting to see the social media reaction. Some people could not believe a township would organize such an event as a second wave of COVID-19 continues across the province. Others pointed out we are in a green zone and we can still host outdoor gatherings of 100 people. They said it was wonderful to have something festive to do with their family and friends.

By contrast, I attended an Algonquin Highlands council meeting Nov. 19 in which that council voted to scrap any in-person gatherings for this festive season. They have instead opted to do a virtual tree lighting in Stanhope, Dorset and Oxtongue. The only people who will be there are the councillors and their families and whoever is operating the Zoom link.

Every community is adopting a somewhat different approach. Haliburton put up its village tree Nov. 22 but it was not a public event, only some Lions Club members such as Jim and Marilyn Frost, some folks from Emmerson Lumber and some Dysart volunteer firefighters were there. And the Rotary Community Christmas Party will be a drive-through format at Curry Chevrolet Dec. 5.

As most of us know by now, another major event, the Christmas Shindig, will be presented virtually this Saturday night.

Before judging anyone, the public should familiarize itself with the rules and restrictions for regions in the green zone. For example, here in the Highlands, we’re still allowed private gatherings of 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors; we can still have organized public events and gatherings of 50 inside and 100 outside; our restaurants remain open; our sports and recreation fitness facilities are allowed to be open with limited numbers. We can still meet, like the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association did for its AGM this past Sunday, by limiting numbers. Our retail stores remain open.

Some confuse what’s happening in hotspot areas, such as Toronto and Peel, with what is happening here.

As we head into the festive season, people are trying to come up with innovative ways to still gather, or fundraise, or do the things we traditionally do this time of the year. We’re not going to like some people’s choices. Some people are not going to like our choices.

But as a community, as long as everybody follows the rules and regulations that are in place at any given time, there’s no reason we can’t have a safe festive season.

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