It’s December and the temperatures have dipped however that’s the only familiarity I have with this year’s holiday season. My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas from a religious perspective, but we certainly enjoy the festive spirit and season. It is a time of year that we look forward to as we gather with our friends and family and the one time in the year when we don’t have to worry about work and school. It’s also the time of year when we give thanks to those who made the year so incredible and consider goals for the New Year.

This year, my immediate family will be home but my extended family and friends will not be with us. I will not be hosting parties and will not be attending parties. I avoid reflecting on the year the way I usually do because it just serves as a reminder that we continue to live in a pandemic and there is uncertainty about when it will end.

For those that are considering attendance at social gatherings this year, I strongly recommend against it however if you plan on doing it anyway, I encourage you to review the rules and regulations implemented by public health and government officials for your geographic area. Failure to do so could result in the imposition of fines for bylaw infraction as well as potential public embarrassment if media outlets report your gathering.

From a liability perspective, in addition to social host liability which can arise if someone is intoxicated as a result of consumption of alcohol and/or drugs at your event which in turn causes a chain of foreseeable events such as a car accident, there is also a potential liability on the host if someone contracts COVID-19 at your event. A homeowner could be sued and it’s unlikely that their home insurer will cover claims related to COVID-19 due to exclusionary clauses related to communicable diseases.

As much as I hate saying it, my legal advice to you is to avoid any holiday events, commonly referred to as “social gathering’s this season. Do not host or attend as a guest until the restrictions are lifted to avoid fines, embarrassment, and potential liability. You have more to lose than to gain by hosting or attending a social gathering during this holiday season. We’ve made it this far; we can make it through a few more months of lockdown.