How COVID-19 is impacting holiday traditions in Manitoba

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost every aspect of life, including many holiday traditions.

Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer has already advised against large gatherings this Thanksgiving. Dr. Brent Roussin has also said that Halloween will look a lot different this year, and specific guidance for trick or treating is on the way.

Read more: Should you skip Thanksgiving due to the pandemic? Manitoba’s top doctor says yes

It’s also impacting many Christmas traditions. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet announced Monday that they’re cancelling the long-running annual performance of the ‘Nutcracker’.

“We just felt the safety and security of our artists was too great to contemplate doing Nutcracker at this time, and moving towards an orange code, we said this maybe not the wisest,” Royal Winnipeg Ballet CEO and artistic director Andrew Lewis told Global News.

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“There’s a whole series of reasons why its complicated with the Nutcracker. It’s our largest show, it has a number of moving parts backstage, on stage, staffing, and social distancing is an issue.”

Lewis says the RWB needs the public’s support now more than ever, and they are considering planning smaller, physically-distanced performances in November and December.

“For lots of people it’s a tradition. Grandparents, parents, young siblings all come together and it’s part of celebrating Christmas in a way,” Lewis said, adding that the decision to cancel has been met with support from the public.

Read more: ‘Guidance’ on Halloween is coming, say Manitoba health officials

Organizers of the Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade say they’re still reviewing their options, and are planning on releasing a decision later this week.

The RBC Convention Centre has also felt the brunt of the pandemic. President and CEO Drew Fisher says they’ve lost 75 per cent of their business this year, which includes holiday parties and galas.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on our season throughout the year and into the fall as well. We’ve seen all of our gala business cancel and all of our convention business cancel, and we have also seen some of our holiday season events cancel as well,” said Fisher, adding that 80 per cent of their clients have rescheduled for 2021.

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“The affect of this pandemic has been absolutely heartbreaking, every single one of the members of our team has been affected.”

Barbara Bowes, the president of Legacy Bowes, says holiday office parties will likely be a no-go this year as well, or they will be downsized significantly.

“The first thing that comes to mind is a boxed lunch and a little gift,” Bowes said. “Managers walking around, saying, ‘Merry Christmas, and this is the best I can do this year’.

“Or you can pull 10 people into your staff room and do 10 at a time, individual departments can do something, but it’s going to be low-key for sure.”

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