The second Easter weekend of the pandemic has become an emblem of exhaustion over public health measures, some say, as politicians across much of Canada warn families not to gather in person for the holiday. (Black Press Media files)

The second Easter weekend of the pandemic has become an emblem of exhaustion over public health measures, some say, as politicians across much of Canada warn families not to gather in person for the holiday. (Black Press Media files)

Pandemic exhaustion could drive some to gather for Easter despite warnings

Recent statistics suggest more than 40% of Canadians feel safe attending family gatherings at this point

The second Easter weekend of the pandemic has become an emblem of exhaustion over public health measures, some say, as politicians across much of Canada warn families not to gather in person for the holiday.

The third wave of COVID-19 crashing across the country has made get-togethers perilous, prompting provincial and federal officials to encourage virtual celebrations and in some cases tighten restrictions.

“We must all avoid social gatherings,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Thursday as he announced tighter public health restrictions across the province, set to begin first thing Saturday.

“I know many of you were hoping to celebrate this important holiday with family and friends. But again, I’m asking people to only gather with their immediate household.”

That messaging didn’t go far enough to convince Marcia Martins, who lives in Toronto with her husband and two kids, to stay home for Easter.

Instead, she’ll be scaling back her family’s typical huge gathering to four households — hers, her parents’, her brother’s, and her aunt and uncle’s.

Most of the people who will be gathering don’t work outside the home, she said, so she’s not worried about safety.

“These are just difficult times right now,” she said. “And I’m just glad that there’s a way that we can just keep as close to normal — or what our old normal was.”

Recent statistics suggest more than 40 per cent of Canadians feel safe attending family gatherings at this point, and a quarter believe the government is overhyping the dangers of COVID-19.

The online poll of more than 2,000 Canadians, carried out between March 15 and 25 by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies and the University of Manitoba, suggests the messaging isn’t getting through, said Jack Jedwab, who heads up the association.

“We’ll need to keep warning people that they need to be cautious,” he said. “It’s a very hard ask of people right now not to gather at this time of year, even though it’s something we must do.”

Leger said its poll would have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20, though the polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

For his part, Jedwab said he is sticking to virtual get-togethers over the long weekend, just like he did for Passover last week.

“For many of us, it’s kind of wired in our DNA to get together with our family and friends around this time,” said Jedwab, who lives in Montreal.

Rhonda Davidson, who lives in Oakville, Ont., said she’s resisting the urge to see extended family this weekend and celebrating only with those in her household — her husband and their kids.

She said she understands that people are facing pandemic exhaustion, but feels they should put that aside for the greater good.

“I’m tired of it, too,” she said. “Everyone’s tired. No one likes it. Just do what we’re supposed to be doing right now, and then hopefully this can all be done.”

Ontario’s government urged residents to do just that Thursday as it announced a “shutdown” of the province. Personal care services such as hair salons are to close and restaurants are to move to takeout only.

But the Progressive Conservatives stopped short of replicating the stay-at-home order that came into effect in early January, even as they touted its success at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re not going to be producing a stay-at-home order, because we saw the last time that it had tremendous ill effect on both children and adults,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott. “…We of course have to balance any measures that we take with people’s mental health as well.”

Quebec, too, found itself tightening restrictions in some regions — a measure announced Wednesday evening.

Schools and non-essential businesses were closed and the curfew moved to 8 p.m. in Quebec City, Levis and Gatineau. Legault said the lockdown would last for at least 10 days.

In British Columbia, the provincial health officer initially said people could gather indoors for worship services between late March and early May, which this year encompasses Passover, Easter, Vaisakhi and parts of Ramadan.

But a recent surge in COVID-19 cases saw Dr. Bonnie Henry rescind that offer this week, for fear religious gatherings could contribute to the virus’s spread.

“We’re just in a very difficult position,” Henry said on Monday. “Some of these important holidays are going to be difficult this year, again.”

Churches, for which offering online services is now old hat, will livestream their Easter celebrations for those who can’t attend in person.

In Saskatchewan, however, Premier Scott Moe stopped short of changing any rules, instead asking people to follow public health advice.

“I would just also urge folks to be very, very careful,” he said. “If they are going to gather, I would urge them to consider potentially not gathering this weekend.”

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District 51 reported a potential COVID-19 exposure at Grand Forks Secondary School on Thursday, April 22. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
School board reports possible COVID exposure at Grand Forks high school

School District 51 said a member of the school community had tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization was considering closing the tower

Fruits and veggies made a big splash at the last Grand Forks and District Fall Fair, held at Dick Bartlett Park and the nearby curling rink in September 2019. Fair president Danna O’Donnell said there would not be a return to in-person events this fall, citing COVID and financial constraints. Photo: Jensen Edwards
Grand Forks fall fair cancels in-person events for 2021

The fair’s board of directors is meanwhile considering relocating the fairgrounds

File photo.
Let’s cut the ‘and’ in ‘Mental Health and Addictions’

We need to acknowledge that addiction is a mental health issue

Four homes in Johnson Flats were at serious risk of falling into a neighbourhood section of the Kettle River, according to capital project manager Justin Dinsdale. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks shields riverside homes against erosion

Crews have built a modified dike along a section of the Kettle River in Johnson Flats

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read