Around this time last year, Londoners were told to stay home and avoid travel when Thanksgiving rolled around amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across Ontario.
While the pandemic still exists and things are far from what they used to be, the 2021 edition of the annual vacation offers a reason to feel more at ease around the table.
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The Middlesex-London Health Unit says it is safe to meet people outside your home, provided extra precautions are taken.
Those precautions include gathering outdoors and making sure as many people as possible are vaccinated.
Jane Mills plans to do just that when her family travels to Chatham.
“Last year, we weren’t able to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family, which was very sad, but this year we are going to try and have dinner on Sunday and we are very excited to do so,” Mills said.
“They were all vaccinated at the dinner we are going to attend, except my two grandchildren who are 10 and 8 years old … they will possibly be accepted by Canada to receive their vaccinations hopefully by the end of November I hope.”
Jacob Ellis heads to Collingwood for a Thanksgiving dinner and says he is comforted by the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“A lot of people have them, all my friends have them, so I worry less and less about it, but obviously it still persists,” Ellis said.
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“My family was definitely uncomfortable even seeing our extended family (last year) … so it’s good to be able to do it again.”
Sara Levesque has a little Thanksgiving planned with her mother.
“Just the two of us, there will be too much ham,” Levesque said.
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While he’s not overly concerned about getting infected over the weekend, Levesque hopes that those planning to have larger gatherings will take the recommended precautions.
“We have to take it easy, people are trying to rush to get back together and get into the house.”
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Dmytro Sereda is an international student who will experience his first Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend.
“I’m just going to go with my host family to some kind of party at someone’s house. We’re going to have some dinner and talk about things and have fun, ”Sereda said.
As for the restrictions, Sereda thinks they should be more relaxed. He wants people to get vaccinated, but he’s concerned that people will be forced to get vaccinated through Ontario’s vaccine certificate system.
Either way, Sereda says she’s happy to get through the weekend without worrying about getting infected.
“I’m vaccinated, all my family members are vaccinated, my mother, everyone I know, so I don’t worry about myself or the people I care about.”
Ray Yusuf plans to spend the weekend working.
He has no family in London, having traveled to the city to find a new job after experiencing a pandemic-related layoff from a job in Mississauga.
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The rest of his family, which Yusuf says is big enough to “fill a banquet hall, maybe two,” is spread across Ontario, as well as the UK and the US.
Yusuf hopes to arrive in the United States for Thanksgiving next month.
“I hope both governments open the borders … anything is possible, right?”
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