Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the global COVID-19 pandemic “really sucks,” and could jeopardize large gatherings with friends and family over Christmas after a reined-in Thanksgiving.

Acknowledging frustrations around partial lockdowns and scrapped Halloween plans in some parts of the country, Trudeau said Tuesday that Canadians need to gird themselves for a “tough winter ahead” amid the second wave of the virus.

“It’s frustrating to have to explain to your kids in many parts of the country, like here in Ottawa, that we’re not going to be trick-or-treating this weekend. And it’s frustrating knowing that unless we’re really, really careful, there may not be the kinds of family gatherings we want to have at Christmas,” Trudeau said at a news conference.

“My six-year-old asked me a few weeks ago, ‘Dad, is COVID-19 forever?’ I mean, he’s in Grade 1, this was supposed to be his big year as a big boy, and they’re not even singing in his classroom.”

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities, despite frustrations over conflicting information on Halloween as well as COVID-19 testing requirements for students.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has suggested hockey sticks as a tool to hand out Halloween treats, while others are resorting to candy chutes or self-serve stations. But the Ontario government has recommended against trick-or-treating in parts of the province that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus resurgence.

Meanwhile school reopening plans sowed confusion about what symptoms in students demanded COVID-19 tests, triggering massive lineups at assessment centres and overwhelming laboratories where the tests are processed.

The mixed messaging threatens to chip away at trust in public health advice, said Tim Sly, an epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Ryerson University’s School of Public Health.

Dance studio’s in Ontario’s “hot zones” have been allowed to stay open, while gyms have been forced to shutter along with cinemas, casinos and performing arts venues, he noted.

“Quite honestly I don’t know why a distinction is made between those two,” Sly said.

Trudeau said circumstances have changed since the spring, when little was known about the novel coronavirus and there was one main message: “Everyone stay home.”

“We can be a little more targeted (now). But yeah, that means a little more complicated in our messages,” he said Tuesday.

Trudeau’s remarks come as Canada verges on 10,000 deaths due to COVID-19.

Ontario is reporting 827 new cases of COVID-19 today, and four new deaths due to the virus, pushing the total number of reported fatalities to 9,999 as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Quebec, where residents in its biggest cities will have to live with partial lockdowns for at least another four weeks, is reporting 963 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 more deaths linked to the coronavirus.

“What we are living through is a horrific national tragedy,” Trudeau said. “And we need to know that there are more tragedies to come.”

Trudeau sought to spur hope as winter looms, despite the sombre words.

“We will get through this. Vaccines are on the horizon. Spring and summer will come and they will be better than this winter,” he said.

But the current situation he summed up with a single verb.

“This sucks. It really, really does.”

In Prince Edward Island, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison had unwelcome news for residents hoping to reunite with family from outside the Atlantic bubble over the December holidays.

“While we are always evaluating our decisions and guidance using the best available evidence, I do not expect right now that we will be reducing the 14-day self-isolation requirement prior to the Christmas holiday season,” she told a briefing in Charlottetown.

Under their bubble arrangement, the Atlantic provinces limit who can enter and require people who do come in from outside the region to quarantine for two weeks.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Search and rescue crews from all over Vancouver Island responded to calls to assist with the search for a 19 year-old man with medical issues who got lost on trails in the south end of Duncan on Nov. 21. The man was found Sunday morning and taken to hospital for assessment. (Submitted photo)
Duncan man rescued after getting lost on local trails

19-year-old taken to hospital for assessment

New estimated figures from Elections BC peg the number of registered voters in 2020 at 54.4 per cent. (Black Press Media File)
2020 provincial election sets historical low turnout

Just over 1.9 million registered voters cast ballots in 2020

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

A sign outside Ucluelet’s Blue Room on Monday morning advises patrons that the restaurant has gone back to take-out only. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Some Ucluelet restaurants heading back to take-out only as COVID-19 concerns rise

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel urges residents to be respectul of business owners’ decisions.

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation announces lockdown after member tests positive for COVID-19

Essential travel only and restricted to Tofino and Ucluelet.

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Cumberland resident Lorna Clark says she's going to treat herself to a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, after winning $50,000 on a Bingo Blast scratch ticket. Photo supplied
Cumberland lottery winner says first purchase will be a roast beef dinner

Meanwhile, Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Capital Regional District Animal Control say an eight-month-old Rottweiler bit a Langford mother and her child near Glen Lake on Nov. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Large dog menaces mother and child in Langford

Mother puts three-year-old on top of car to protect him when friendly encounter turns scary

The Victoria Police Department headquarters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation launched into man’s death after arrest in Victoria

IIO investigation to determine if police actions or inaction played a role in the man’s death

(Village of Sayward)
Sayward elects new mayor and two council members

New mayor-elect Mark Baker to end 2020’s revolving door in North Island village

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

The first phase of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit when it was under construction. The Municipality of North Cowichan denied the VIMC a development permit for phase two of the project. That decision was quashed by the courts. (File photo)
North Cowichan to appeal court’s decision to quash Motorsport expansion denial

Municipality has until Dec. 6 to file appeal to recent court ruling

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read