KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's top doctor is urging families not to gather as they normally would this Thanksgiving as the province enters the second wave of COVID-19.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang warned people not to get complacent around the holiday because of the possible risks.

"With cases on the rise across Ontario, large family gatherings will increase the spread of COVID-19," she said during the briefing.

"The virus is spread by people and it spreads easily in social settings where people may feel more relaxed about following precautions."

Dr. Wang suggested that people celebrate Thanksgiving virtually, or with a shorter, foodless visit.

Alternatively, she offered some precautions to take for those who choose to share a meal with their families:

  • Keep windows open to allow for increased airflow;
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly;
  • Practice proper hand hygiene, especially before and after eating; and
  • Wear masks when not eating or drinking.

While the province currently allows a legal maximum of 10 people indoors at a time, Dr. Wang encouraged people to keep gatherings as small as possible.

"Due to the pandemic progressing in Ontario, even though the limit in Ontario is 10 at this time, I would encourage those of us who can keep it smaller to do so," she said.

She also asked that people recommit to smaller social bubbles, and issued a reminder that a bubble is "the same small group of people in our small social bubble all the time, not different groups at one time."

Waterloo Region has seen a significant rise in cases through September, reporting 255 cases so far this month.

The active number of cases has also nearly quadrupled this month, going from 42 at the start of the month to 156 by Sept. 29.

On a broader level, Ontario as a whole reported its highest single-day increase ever on Monday, when more than 700 cases were reported.