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How to safely attend fall events

As fall draws near, we anticipate the return of some autumn events and gatherings where many people may come together. If you are planning to attend an event or gathering, here are some things to keep in mind that will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and make your experience one that is both healthy and enjoyable.

Get vaccinated! Getting both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect you, your family and those you are attending events with.

Along with getting vaccinated, it is important to follow the public health measures outlined in Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen to help stop the spread of COVID-19 at gatherings and events this summer. Under Step 3, this includes: 

  • Follow the outdoor social gatherings or organized public events limit of 100 people and the indoor gathering limit of 25 people; or by capacity limits set out for indoor or outdoor concerts, theatres or other event venues. Locally organized events may allow for more people to attend venues that are approved by the Health Unit. If you attend these events, follow the event rules to assist in decreasing risk of COVID-19. 
  • Maintain 2 metres (6 feet) physical distance from everyone outside your household. 
  • Wear a mask or face covering indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible as well as in all indoor public spaces. Venues and festivals may have their own additional rules for wearing a face mask that you must also follow. 
  • Stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water or, if that’s not available, with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and dispose of the tissue properly once used.

For further information, please visit our COVID-19 webpages.

Fall days can bring warm and sunny conditions. When attending outdoor events, be sun safe and prevent heat-related illness by taking the following actions:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty as this is a sign that your body is already becoming dehydrated. 
  • Stay in cool, shaded areas while the sun is out or bring your own source of shade, such as an umbrella or tent. 
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher as well as a lip balm with sunscreen. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. 
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses or eyeglasses with UV protection, and clothing that is lightweight, light-coloured, and loose-fitting. 
  • If you experience any heat-related symptoms, visit a health facility immediately.

For further information, please see the health unit’s sun safety webpages.

The fall is still a perfect season for barbecues, picnics, and outdoor meals. However, without careful thought and preparation, along with these activities can come an increased risk of foodborne illness.

To keep you and your loved ones safe, follow these food safety recommendations: 

Keep things clean

  • Make sure to pack soap and a cloth for washing and ensure there is a safe source of water available. If tap water is not available, use bottled water or boil untreated water for two minutes before using. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling food. 
  • Clean all cooking surfaces and utensils with soap and warm water before and after each use. Before packing your cooler, wash it with soap, sanitize with a bleach-water solution, and rinse with cold water. 

Keep raw meats, poultry, fish, and eggs separate

  • Store raw meats, poultry, fish, and eggs separate from other foods to prevent cross-contamination of bacteria. Try packing these foods in leak-proof bags at the bottom of your cooler or pack them in a separate cooler. 
  • Pack two sets of utensils and use one set for raw meats only. 

Chill perishable foods: 

  • Keep all perishable foods cold, at a temperature of 0-4⁰C. To keep foods cold, pack them in an insulated cooler with ice packs, frozen water bottles, or bags of ice. Be sure to keep your cooler out of the sun. 
  • Never leave perishable foods out for more than 1-2 hours. 

Cook foods to the appropriate temperature:

  • Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Pack a digital thermometer to help you determine if your food is cooked thoroughly.

For more information, please see the health unit’s food safety webpages

Here are some tips to help you make healthy food choices while attending fall events and gatherings:

For more information, please see our webpages on Healthy Eating.

People attending fall events are strongly encouraged not to smoke or use tobacco products to protect their own health, to protect staff, volunteers, and/or guests (including children) from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, and to reduce fire-related risks. If you do choose to smoke at an event, you must comply with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which states that:

  • Smoking of tobacco and/or cannabis and vaping of any substance is prohibited inside all public places and workplaces, including buildings, work vehicles and indoor and outdoor food and/or beverage areas. 
  • Smoking of tobacco and cannabis and vaping of any substance is prohibited on patios and within 9 metres of a patio where food and drink is served including outdoor areas where seating tables are provided for patrons to consume their meal or beverage. 
  • Smoking of tobacco and cannabis and vaping of any substance is prohibited inside buildings, temporary structures that are covered, work vehicles and washrooms (including portable toilets) at the event.

For more information, visit our Smoking and Tobacco webpage. Thinking of quitting? Visit Don’t Quit Quitting or SmokersHelpline.ca for tips and online support for your quit attempt.

If you choose to drink at a fall event or gathering, keep the following recommendations in mind to reduce the harms associated with alcohol:

  • Use Canada's Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines to help you decide when, where, why, and how to consume alcohol. 
  • No amount of alcohol is safe when pregnant. 
  • Alcohol impairs your judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Arrange a way home in advance if you are planning to drink at an event. Driving while impaired is illegal and dangerous. Avoid being a passenger with an impaired driver. 
  • Mixing alcohol with other drugs can be dangerous and sometimes fatal. Get immediate medical assistance if you or anyone else is experiencing the harmful effects of mixing alcohol and drugs.

Please see our Alcohol webpages for more information.

If you choose to use cannabis at an event or gathering this fall, keep the following recommendations in mind to reduce the harms associated with cannabis:

  • Follow Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines to reduce the risk of potential harmful effects from cannabis. 
  • It is safest to avoid using any form of cannabis if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 
  • Cannabis impairs your judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Arrange a way home in advance if you will be using cannabis at an event. Driving while impaired is illegal and dangerous. Avoid being a passenger with a driver impaired by cannabis. 

Those who choose to use cannabis at events must comply with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which states that: 

  • Individuals are legally entitled to carry on their person up to 30g of cannabis for recreational use and the prescribed amounts for medicinal purposes. Smoking of cannabis is allowed wherever smoking is permitted. 
  • Smoking of tobacco and/or cannabis and vaping of any substance is prohibited inside all public places and workplaces, including buildings, work vehicles and indoor and outdoor food and/or beverage areas. 
  • Smoking of tobacco and cannabis and vaping of any substance is prohibited on patios and within 9 metres of a patio where food and drink is served including outdoor areas where seating tables are provided for patrons to consume their meal or beverage. 
  • Smoking of tobacco and cannabis and vaping of any substance is prohibited inside buildings, temporary structures that are covered, work vehicles and washrooms (including portable toilets) at the event.

For more information, please see our webpages on Cannabis.

When enjoying the outdoors, we inevitably enter tick and mosquito habitats. The risks of Lyme disease, transmitted by blacklegged ticks, and West Nile Virus, carried by certain mosquitoes, are increasing throughout Simcoe Muskoka because of the warmer temperatures brought on by climate change. To lower your chances of being exposed to tick or mosquito-borne illnesses, you can take the following actions:

  • Avoid or limit your time outdoors at dusk or dawn, if possible, as this is when mosquitoes are most active. 
  • When outdoors in grassy or wooded areas, wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants, shoes with closed toes, and tuck your pant cuffs into your socks. Light-coloured clothing makes ticks easier to see. 
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin. Before using an insect repellent, make sure it is registered in Canada, read the label, and follow directions. If using a spray repellent, be sure to use the product in a well-ventilated area. Apply only to exposed skin and/or clothing - never underneath clothing. 
  • Do a full body tick check on yourself and your family (including pets) after being outdoors.

For instructions on doing a tick check and to learn more about Lyme disease, please visit the health unit’s webpage on Lyme Disease and Ticks.

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