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Kawartha Lakes health unit provides advice on safe Christmas parade organization

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) has provided some information for anyone looking to hold a safe Christmas parade this year.

At a virtual press conference, on Wednesday, October 20th, local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Natalie Bocking described how the process of setting up a parade works.

“Parades do fall under the special event description, under Step Three of the Reopening Ontario act. So there are some capacity limits associated with parades. There is a Ministry of Health guideline for holding special events, which would apply to parades in their typical historical sense. The health unit is not involved with approving parades. This is a responsibility [which] falls to municipalities. We don’t approve the safety plans associated with them. But we’re a resource to both the municipalities as well as parade organizers, should they have questions about how parades can be held safely or what the various restrictions mean.”

She then talked about how these types of events can be held safely in this pandemic.

“There are opportunities for parade organizers to look at ways to adapt how they host parades, to meet the current restrictions,” Dr. Bocking said.

In their usual format, The local medical officer isn’t at ease with the safety of attending parades in this pandemic.

“When I think of parades, and I think of large crowds pressed quite closely together, largely strangers, that’s not something I’m comfortable with right now. I think if we did see some parades [encouraging] some distancing, [which] had an opportunity to ensure people could see what the floats were but had appropriate measures in place [that would be good]. Certainly, right now, we have to respect the regulations, and we’ll have to see how they might change,” Dr. Bocking explained.

She listed masking, spacing of attendees and having hand sanitizer available as things parade organizers will need to consider to be able to hold a safe event.

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