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COVID Christmas: High anxiety around surging infections, but many won’t commit to staying home for the holidays

From “Let it snow” to “Let it end”. From “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough” to “We’ll have to muddle through, somehow”.

This year, as with everything, COVID-19 has changed the focus of the Christmas season. Top of mind topics in a pre-pandemic world might have centred on the economic or environmental impacts of the holidays. Now, it is focused more on difficult and often gut-wrenching decisions on whether to spend the holidays with family or friends.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with Cardus, show that while most are choosing a more solitary rather than merry Christmas, a significant segment still plan to visit people outside their household, either locally or out of province.

Three-in-ten say they will be visiting with friends and family outside of their households locally. This includes 35 per cent in both Alberta and Quebec, where daily numbers of new COVID-19 infections are regularly setting records.

Potentially even more troubling, one-in-ten Canadians, including more than one-in-eight Albertans and one-in-seven Quebecers, are still planning to travel outside of their communities for the holidays.

More Key Findings:

  • Four-in-five Canadians (81%) are concerned about their friends and family becoming sick. Those who are not concerned are twice as likely to say that they will be seeing friends and family both locally and outside of their home community during the holidays.
  • Canadians who practice their faith during this season are looking to technology to stay safe. Nearly half (45%) say they will be participating in an online service this year, and 9 per cent will be using an app to pray or meditate.
  • Despite the challenges of the season, spirits are not dampened. The same number of Canadians are looking forward to the holiday season as said this in 2019.

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