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COVID-19: Fall Activities

Fall is here and we are starting to spend more time indoors. It remains important to follow public health measures. When spending time with people outside of your household, avoid:

  • Crowded places
    • Plan activities where physical distance can be maintained and wear a face covering
  • Close contact settings
    • Close contact social interactions should only occur with your immediate household members
  • Confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation
    • As much as possible, plan activities outdoor

Before making plans to participate in activities outside of your home:

  1. Screen yourself for symptoms. If you have any symptoms, stay home and contact your local Assessment Centre, the health unit or your health care provider to arrange testing.
  2. Decide if the event is worth the risk.

Certain people are at a higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I at higher risk because of my age?
  • Am I at higher risk because of my medical conditions?
  • Am I feeling well? Take the self-assessment.

The best and most caring thing you can do to help your loved ones, friends and community safe is to do your part to stop the spread. It is a shared responsibility; we all pay a role!

Staying Safe at Fall Events

Before going to an event this fall, plan ahead and be prepared:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue if coughing or sneezing.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Maintain a 2-metre distance between people.
  • Follow social gathering limits.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid touching items that you will not be purchasing.
  • Follow posted signage and directional arrows.
  • Stay outdoors as much as possible.
  • Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands regularly.

Social gatherings

Gatherings, holidays and celebrations are going to look and feel different during the COVID-19 pandemicAll individuals should assess their own level of risk, and the health of every person in their household, when deciding how if and when to gather with others. Social gatherings can be any group of up to 10 people indoors and up to 25 people outdoors. Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together for a total of 35. Remember to maintain a 2-metre distance from those not in your household. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household.

These gathering limits apply to social gatherings in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas. This includes:

  • functions
  • parties
  • dinners
  • gatherings
  • barbecues
  • wedding receptions

These limits do not apply to events or gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities because they must already follow specific public health and safety guidelines to minimize risk and limit the spread of COVID-19. They include:

  • bars
  • restaurants
  • cinemas
  • convention centres or banquet halls
  • gyms
  • recreational sporting or performing art events
  • religious services, rites or ceremonies.

Who am I able to have close contact with?

  • People should limit close contact to individuals living in their household (i.e., the people they live with).

What is close contact?

  • Close contact is defined as contact that does not include the practice of recommended public health measures such as two (2) metre physical distancing and wearing a face covering where required or where physical distancing is a challenge.

What if I live alone?

  • Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household or consider connecting with another household while maintaining physical distance and wearing a face covering.

Am I allowed to spend time with people who I don’t live with?

  • The Porcupine Health Unit recommends that people limit close contact to individuals living in their household.
  • If you have a gathering with people you don’t live with, physical distancing of two meters should be maintained:
    • You cannot have more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.
    • The fewer the people you have, the lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
    • Gathering or events outdoors are safer than indoors, however physical distancing of 2 metres must still be maintained.

What can I do to stay safe?

  • Remember, that just because you know someone, it does not reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
  • Virtual gatherings or events are the safest way to visit or recognize occasions with people outside your household.
  • Any gatherings must adhere to the measures and restrictions.
  • Follow good public health measures:
    • You should keep your gathering as small as possible and use outdoor spaces whenever possible.
    • Promote physical distancing.
    • Stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild or you recently had a negative COVID-19 test.
    • Limit close contact to your household or people you live with and maintain two metres of physical distancing from everyone else.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.
    • Cover your cough.
    • Wear a face covering indoors.
    • Wear a face covering outdoors if physical distancing may be not be maintained.
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you’ve been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert mobile app.


The Thanksgiving holiday is often celebrated with family and friends. Consider celebrating within your immediate household or hosting a virtual celebration. Family members and students should assess the risk they may pose to their families and loved ones before returning home for Thanksgiving, looking at their own recent travel and potential exposure to the virus, including time spent in the "Three Cs": closed spaces, in close contact, and crowded spaces.

If you are planning an event with others from outside your household, please remember that private social gatherings like functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas have new gathering limits. Private social gatherings with more than 10 people indoors or more than 25 people outdoors are prohibited across the province as of September 19, 2020. Be a safe and responsible host or guest!

As a host, here are a few tips to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19:

  • Cancel the event if anyone in your home is unwell.
  • Inform guests to stay home if they have symptoms.
  • Invite a safe number of guests for your space and follow provincial social gathering guidelines.
  • Consider celebrating virtually, especially for those at an increased risk of severe illness.
  • Limit the length of time for the gathering. Less time, less risk.
  • Tell everyone to expect physical distancing.
  • Consider wearing a face covering indoors and outdoors, even in private gatherings, especially when physical distancing can't be maintained.
  • Make a guest list with updated contact information. This will be very helpful in the event someone becomes ill.
  • Follow safe food handling tips
    • e.g., serve food in ways that limit cross-contamination and avoid sharing serving utensils (no buffet-style).
  • Consider wearing a non-medical mask or face covering when serving food to guests.
  • Show guests where they can wash their hands and have hand sanitizer available.
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces during the event as needed.
  • Afterwards, clean and disinfect surfaces.

Farmers' markets

This a great time like any other to support our local farmers and shop local. To make it safe for everyone, it is important to keep public health measures and the Farmers' Markets of Ontario (FMO) protocols in mind:

  • Do not attend the market if unwell.
  • Social interaction must be limited. Keep interactions short and quick. There will be no communal tables or seating.
  • Maintain physical distancing of 2 metres from others.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Avoid touching food or other vendor sale items. Vendors will package and hand you your items.
  • Do not sample any food.
  • Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue if coughing or sneezing.

If you are a vendor at a Farmers' Market, please review the Farmers' Market of Ontario protocols and the event checklist, and monitor for symptoms.


Visit our webpage on Halloween for information on how to celebrate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is an important day to recognize and honour our Veterans. To keep everyone safe during the ceremonies, public health measures and social gathering guidelines must be respected. If you are organizing an event, follow the Event Checklist. Check back here or on our Facebook page regularly.

Birthday Parties

With school and some extracurricular activities starting up again, parents may be considered hosting children’s birthday parties or sleepovers. At this time, these events are not recommended unless they adhere to physical distancing and social gathering limits.

Going to the cottage

We are encouraging people to stay home as much as possible. Those who choose to head out to their cottage are encouraged to go only with members of their household. In addition, bring food and supplies from home, remain in Northern Ontario area if possible, return home if you start to feel unwell and be safe while out.

Together, we want to limit the potential impact on Emergency Management Services (EMS) and the hospital emergency rooms. Attending an emergency outside city or town limits, can leave the community without services and put them at risk. The potential increased risk of injuries when camping can overwhelm hospital ERs.

When visiting other cottages or hosting group events, ensure that physical distancing is maintained and respect social gathering limits.

Fall hunt and fishing

As of right now, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNR) has not announced any changes to the fall hunting seasons and the fall hunt has started. Hunting must take place in accordance to public health guidelines. This means hunters may need to reconsider their traditional hunting season. Many hunters traditionally travel long distances, congregate in hunting parties and stay in accommodations where it is difficult to maintain proper physical distancing.

In the event that big game hunting is closed due to public health restrictions, the ministry is considering options for reimbursing or credits for purchased big game licences and draw applications (elk). The ministry will provide detailed communications to hunters in the event of hunting season closures. Visit the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters website for more information.

Tips when going hunting:

  • As much as possible, hunt with people from your household
  • If hunting with people from outside of your household, consider
    • Travelling in separate vehicles
    • Wearing your mask
    • Making separate sleeping arrangements
    • Maintain a 2-metre distance between people

For the same reasons above, fishing and hunting can bring risks that requires emergency services.

Physical activity during COVID-19

Canadians are being asked to stay close to home and practice physical distancing to decrease the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. We know these new restrictions have the potential to impact the physical and mental wellbeing of residents. It is more important than ever to engage in a healthy lifestyle, which includes increasing physical activity, limiting sedentary time, getting a good night’s sleep and eating well. 

Follow the instructions for your situation below:

  Can I get fresh air on my private property (backyard, balcony, porch/deck)? Can I go for a bike ride, walk, run, etc., off my private property?
Individuals who have returned from travel outside of Canada Yes No
Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 even if they are mild Yes No
Individuals who are a close contact of a confirmed/suspected case of COVID-19 Yes No
All persons over 70 years of age Yes You are considered high risk for getting sick from COVID-19. We recommend that you stay home and limit interactions to members of your immediate household.
Individuals who are immunocompromised (or underlying medical conditions) Yes You are considered high risk for getting sick from COVID-19. We recommend that you stay home and limit interactions to members of your immediate household.
All other Cochrane district residents Yes Yes, but only if you can keep 2 metres from others and have NO symptoms of COVID-19.

Active Indoors

  • Consider taking micro breaks. Take small physical activity breaks with your partner, roommate, or kids. Daily physical activity recommendations (for adults or children and youth) do not have to be met at a single time.
  • Create a workout space at home, get into your usual workout gear and break a sweat. Find free workouts online, subscribe to a membership, or find your local gym instructors who may be offering something online during this time.
  • Physical isolation does not mean you cannot have social connection. A lot of people are starting to do boot camp together over any number of video chat interfaces such as FaceTime, Instagram, Zoom, and WhatsApp.

Active Outdoors

Unless you are told to self-isolate, practicing physical distancing can still include going outdoors, and being active outdoors. Our neighbourhood sidewalks, streets, and multi-use paths can be your best options for getting outside and getting moving. Below are some important steps to follow before heading out:

  • Wash your hands before going out and after you return home.
  • Step-aside or pass others quickly and courteously on sidewalks.
  • Keep a 2-metre distance from others.
  • Change your route or the time of day that you go out

Playgrounds and play structures, parks and open spaces and sporting fields (e.g., soccer, baseball, basketball courts, tennis courts) in our area are open for the public keeping in line with group-size limitations. Washroom facilities may be limited. To safely use these areas, it’s recommended that you maintain physical distancing and wear a non-medical mask or face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained, and use hand sanitizer frequently or wash your hands if possible.

Here are some age-based activity ideas:

For infants, under 1 year of age

  • Spend regular time doing floor-based play with your baby in a prone position (tummy time) and spread this throughout the day while baby is awake.

For children, under 5 years of age

  • Active play in and around the home – invent games which involve being active and can develop skills in throwing, catching, kicking, as well as developing posture and balance.
  • Active play and games where children get out of breath, such as running around, skipping and jumping.
  • Have a dance party! Take turns showing off your best dance moves. 

For children, and adolescents aged 5-17 years

  • Active games and active play with family. For example, hide and seek or obstacle courses.
  • Join an online active games or activity classes, also look for online physical education classes as well as exercise routines suitable for adolescents (see below for some ideas).
  • Set up playground games indoors such as jump rope and hop-scotch – make up new games and challenges that involve being active.
  • Spring is here. Yard work and gardening are great ways to be active and enjoy some time together as a family.
  • Learn a new skill – for example try to learn to juggle.
  • Encourage strength training activities such as lifting weights or use improvised weight such as filled water bottles, soup cans, etc. 

For adults

  • Use household chores as a way to be more physical activity.
  • Summer is here. Yard work and gardening are great ways to be active and get some fresh air.
  • Check out your local gym or look on YouTube, Instagram and various websites that have free Pilates, yoga, bootcamp, and other activity-based classes.
  • Make up your own routine that uses the major muscle groups and raises your heart rate. Make a special workout playlist and use it to motivate you.
  • Do some muscle strengthening activities such as lifting weights. Improvise using full water bottles, soup cans, laundry detergent, etc. or simply use your own body weight and do sets of push ups, sit ups and squats.

Sports and Recreational Fitness Activities

Many sport groups and facilities are adjusting to life in the COVID-19 pandemic and guidance can vary between sports play (e.g., tennis, dance, martial arts), individual (e.g., weight training) and team sports (e.g., hockey, baseball). Organizers and coaches are required to follow public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Remember to keep your team safe. If you are unwell, stay home.

For the specific regulations, consult your local sport groups or visit the government of Ontario website on the laws and regulations.

Influenza (the flu)

This year will be a different flu season with the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual spread of influenza presents an additional challenge to the response to future waves of COVID-19. This year, it’s especially important to get the flu vaccine so you can be as healthy as possible in the event that you are exposed to COVID-19.

Flu vaccines will be offered by the Porcupine Health Unit during the month of November throughout different regions in the area. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to reach full effect, so be sure to get the shot when it becomes available.

Both COVID-19 and influenza are spread by droplets and:

  • Cause respiratory symptoms ranging from mild to severe and include death
  • Can be prevented through hand hygiene, physical distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette, staying home when you are sick, and cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces often

Protect yourself from influenza and COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Maintain physical distancing
  • Wear a face covering
  • Wash your hands often
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces often
  • Use proper cough and sneeze etiquette

For more information on this year’s flu season or to book an appointment for your flu shot, visit our influenza webpage.