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Happy holidays

Watch Dr. Gardner's holiday message video to the community here

During the holiday season, all our offices will be closed to the public Monday, December 27th, Tuesday, December 28th and Monday, January 3rd.

If you have a medical emergency call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. The COVID-19 general inquiries line will be available at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520) extension 5829. For immediate health care or advice call your health care provider or Telehealth  1-866-797-0000.

The following offices will be closed to the public for additional dates, however, our Health Connection phone line and staff are available by calling 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520).

  • Collingwood and Cookstown offices closed to the public December 30th and 31st. 
  • Huntsville office closed to the public December 29th, 30th and 31st.

As you prepare for winter holiday celebrations be sure to check out our tips - from following COVID-19 public health measures to food safety – to help make your gathering memorable for all the right reasons.

If you choose to participate in holiday activities (indoors our outdoors) such as tree or menorah lighting ceremonies, parades, or New Year’s Eve countdowns,, continue to follow these public health measures:

  • Stay home if you are ill, even if your symptoms are mild. If you have COVID-19 symptoms get tested and self-isolate.
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app.
  • Avoid crowds and maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from anyone outside your household.
  • Wear a mask or face covering indoors, and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Sneeze and cough into your upper sleeve or elbow; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 
  • Consider alternatives (e.g. signs, banners) to shouting or chanting to avoid spreading droplets.

It is important to remember that knowing someone does not reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Virtual gatherings or events are still the safest way to celebrate. Activities could include a virtual ugly sweater contest, a virtual Karaoke party, or an online trivia competition. 

If you choose to host a gathering, physical distancing and wearing a face covering when indoors with those not in  your household is a safe way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

To decrease the spread of COVID-19 at a social or family gathering we recommend that:

  • Individuals who are NOT fully vaccinated against COVID-19 keep gatherings to only those within their household unless physical distancing is practised and/or face coverings are worn.
  • Individuals who ARE fully vaccinated are advised to keep gatherings to a small number of people outside of their household. For the protection of all, preferably everyone should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • You should have the fewest number of people possible at your party or gathering. Do not exceed the gathering limits (25 indoors; 100 outdoors)
  • Provide all the necessary supplies, including hand sanitizer, soap and water. 
  • Open windows, if possible. 
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces. 
  • Ask guests to NOT attend if they have symptoms, even if they are mild. 
  • Make a list of guests attending in case public health needs it for contact tracing. 
  • Remind people of public health guidance to follow during the event.
  • If you are serving food and drinks, remember to wash your hands often while preparing and serving food and suggest all those gathered do so before and after eating.

If you are invited to a gathering:

  • Do NOT attend if you are ill - even if your symptoms are mild.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.
  • If you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease and/or exposure to COVID-19, consider joining virtually or not attending the event.

Information on workplaces wishing to host staff holiday parties can find more information here

For many the holidays mean a festive turkey or brisket dinner, or a variety of other celebratory dishes, while gathering to celebrate with family and friends. Don't let foodborne illness caused by improper food handling turn your gathering from joyful to miserable.


  • Wash hands often with liquid soap and water. 
  • Disinfect surfaces (e.g., counters, cutting boards) between uses.


  • Keep raw meat below and away from ready-to-eat or previously cooked foods in the fridge. 
  • Use a pan on the lowest shelf of the fridge to catch any juices from a thawing turkey or other meat.


  • Ensure all foods are cooked to safe and proper internal temperatures and check with a probe thermometer.
  • A turkey is done when it reaches at least 82C/180F (insert thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, the thigh).


  • Refrigerate groceries that must be kept cool as soon as you get home from shopping.
  • Leftovers should be refrigerated immediately.

During the holidays we tend to indulge more than usual. Whether you are hosting an event or attending one, be sure to balance meals and snacks with healthier choices and limit alcohol consumption.

  • Choose whole grain foods.
  • Include plenty of vegetables and fruit.
  • Be mindful of your eating habits. Take time to eat. Notice when you are hungry and when you are full.
  • Make water your drink of choice.
  • If you drink alcohol limit to two to three standard drinks.

Find more tips on healthy eating or low-risk drinking over the holidays. 

The holidays can be busy and stressful for many but physical activity refreshes the mind and can relieve tension and stress, making us feel better. Continue to be active over the holidays by becoming and staying active and by sitting less and moving more.

  • Go for a family walk in your neighbourhood to look at holiday decorations
  • Go for a family walk or snowshoe outing on one our local trails.
  • Play games such as charades or physically active video games like bowling or tennis, to name a few.
  • Join a virtual fitness class.
  • Go tobogganing or skating (being sure to follow all COVID-19 public health measures).

When outside in the cold, remember to:

  • wear layers of warm loose fitting clothing, with a wind resistant outer layer;
  • wear a hat that covers the ears, a scarf and warm mittens/gloves; 
  • wear warms socks and warm waterproof boots
  • keep moving (make snow angels and build snow people), 
  • And remember to sun safety even in the winter months.
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If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

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