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

Hamels Fabrics & Quilting is set to open on April 6 in Sooke. The shop is located at 2044 Otter Point Road. (Mark Martins/Pixabay)
Fabric and quilting store opens doors in Sooke

Shop is filled with all kinds of ‘bright, bold and cheery’ designs

Eli, left, Brent, Lindsay and Ava Wilson. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wilson)
West Shore families share experience in raising a child with autism

Two families reveal some parallels, but circumstances are different for everyone

Kit Thornton, chief aquarist at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, plays with Wanda, the female Giant Pacific octopus currently residing at the centre. The centre will release Wanda back into the wild next month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
An octopus named Wanda will soon say goodbye to Sidney

Wanda’s personality is ‘complete opposite’ of previous octopus named after Dr. Bonnie Henry

New hours went into effect at Saanich Parks and Public Works Yard for spring and summer seasons on April 6. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Spring, summer hours in effect at Saanich Public Works Yard

Residents reminded to practise social distancing, prepare to unload without staff help

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Most Read