As vaccine rollouts are ramping up, we’re seeing how getting vaccinated will bring us all back together, faster. If you’re able, get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to you. You can check the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 page for more information. Rest assured that vaccines approved in Canada go through a thorough vetting process by health experts and are safe. 

The more people who get the vaccine and we see a decrease in new COVID cases, the sooner we’ll return to the summer traditions we know and love. In the meantime, many of your favourite summer activities may still be cut back because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. However, the good news is you can still enjoy some of the traditional trappings of summer. It may require some creativity for staying safe at the same time.

Are outdoor gatherings permitted where you live? If they are, here are some ideas for safe, fun summer gatherings.

1. Host an outdoor “BYOE” celebration

You can still throw a small gathering, but make it “BYOE,” as in, “bring your own everything.”

While group gatherings are safer outdoors than in, that doesn’t mean you should let down your guard. And your guests may prefer to eat food they have prepared themselves, too. You can ask them to pack their own meals, drinks and utensils as well.

What if you still yearn to host? Consider having the meal catered, since restaurants and commercial kitchens are likely to have high sanitation standards. If you order in, consider individually packaged meals, rather than serving buffet-style. 

Set up tables or picnic blankets two metres apart on your lawn or patio. That way, each family or group knows where to sit safely. You may even have guests bring their own chairs or blankets to make things even easier. 

Is the government still prohibiting private gatherings where you live? Maybe you can meet at the park instead. Be creative while respecting all public health guidelines and local bylaws.

2. Set up a DIY backyard movie theater

Some movie theaters may be making plans to re-open. But many Canadians are still hesitant to mingle with the masses. Fortunately, avoiding crowds doesn’t mean missing out on the fun of a night at the movies. Instead, create your own at-home theater. All you need is a projector and a wall, fence, or white sheet. Don’t forget the bug spray for maximum enjoyment.  

Have your guests bring their own snacks, drinks, and chairs, and you can arrange them two metres apart. Consider making it a weekly event everyone can look forward to. You might also invite movie buffs to vote on the film to accommodate a variety of genres and tastes.

If the weather doesn’t cooperate on your planned movie night, that’s ok. There’s a number of sources online that will let you host a virtual watch party instead.

3. Take a virtual trip or tour

It’s looking like the borders are likely to remain closed for some time. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely “miss out” on an international jaunt. Many high-profile destinations, landmarks and museums are offering virtual tours. You can plan a visit from the comfort of your home. 

You can also make themed snacks to get in the spirit of travel. You might discover you don’t miss the crowds, heat or hassle of travel.

If museums and monuments aren’t your thing, you could plan a virtual games night. There are many options available to experience virtual escape rooms or play a trivia game with friends. A simple internet search will give you free ideas to connect with your friends and family virtually. 

4. Include group-hesitant friends and relatives in your celebrations

Even when groups begin to gather, many individuals will remain wary of socializing in groups. This may be for health or other reasons. For their comfort and safety, you can offer ways they can join in the fun from a distance. 

For example, you could ask a guest to record and stream the event. That way, some guests can participate from their own home. Or, give them advance notice of a party. Then, they can send a gift for the honoree to open on-camera. To help make them feel included, send a sweet treat so they can join cake time, for example. 

5. Always opt for the safest choice

It’s easy to get carried away when we want to get back to our usual social lives. But the current moment demands an attitude of “better safe than sorry.”

While some restaurants may open for indoor dining, outside venues are still a safer choice. Just make sure to follow the rules recommended by the federal government and your provincial or territorial government. In most places, it’s still recommended to wear a mask for everyone’s health and safety. 

The government urges people to wear facial coverings when you can’t maintain a two-metre distance from others – even if you’ve been vaccinated. This can happen in crowded public settings, such as:

  • stores,
  • shopping areas and
  • public transit. 

This summer, it’s wise to err on the side of safety as you make choices for you and your family. But that doesn’t mean the fun times can’t go on—it just requires a little creative planning.

And let’s hope and plan for a better summer, next year. 

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada, visit the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 page.

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