City of Toronto Urges Residents to Adapt Faith-Based Holiday Observances During COVID-19 Pandemic

On the advice of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the City of Toronto is urging everyone to continue staying at home and keeping their distance from others during the upcoming holidays.

In the coming weeks, many across our city will be observing Passover, Easter, and the start of Ramadan. Normally an opportunity to spend time with family and faith-based communities, the City urges everyone to continue to follow provincial orders closing places of worship and limiting gatherings, and public health recommendations to remain at home, leaving only for essential reasons.  

Dr. de Villa is advising all Torontonians to stay home and not host family and friends over the coming holidays. The Government of Canada has also prohibited foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel, which includes holiday celebrations. Anyone that does enter the country, including Canadians returning from travel, is required, by law, to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of whether they have symptoms of COVID-19. 

The City of Toronto recognizes the importance of spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing during these important times. People are encouraged to connect with loved ones, friends, and vulnerable members of the community online or by phone. Many places of worship are hosting services online and implementing innovative ways to connect their communities while staying physically apart. Residents should check the website of their place of worship for information on online services and supports. 

The City’s Emergency Operations Centre has also been working closely with grocery partners. Large grocery chains and smaller local grocers have expressed concerns for the health and safety of their workers and the supply of available goods should demand ramp up for upcoming faith-based holidays. 

Those planning to celebrate a faith-based holiday with a special meal for members of their household should be mindful of the current situation in the wider community. Grocers are anticipating that tomorrow and the upcoming Thursday and Saturday will be popular shopping days and ask people to limit shopping on these days. 

General advice for grocery shopping remains: 

  • Grocery shop only one day per week and buy only what you need for up to two weeks
  • Respect store hours dedicated to seniors, vulnerable persons, and essential service workers (normally the first hour stores are open)
  • Have a list of items, shop efficiently, and do not casually browse
  • Do not touch food or products you are not intending to buy
  • Practise physical distancing
  • When possible, pay with a card or phone tap rather than cash

There are also many opportunities to foster the spirit of upcoming holidays through donations to local food banks. Residents who are able are encouraged to donate non-perishable food to food banks or drop off food donations at local fire halls. Needed essentials include:

  • canned fish and meat
  • canned beans and pulses
  • canned tomatoes
  • rice and quinoa
  • cooking oil
  • baby formula and diapers

A map of food banks is available on the 211 website, https://www.211toronto.ca/topic/food

Those feeling isolated or anxious during the holidays are encouraged to seek mental health supports Information on COVID-19 crisis and mental health supports are listed on our website at https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-health-advice/.