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Londoners enjoy looser rules for second Thanksgiving amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 guidelines to ensure a safe Thanksgiving' COVID-19 guidelines to ensure a safe Thanksgiving
WATCH: Infectious diseases physician Dr. Issac Bogoch clears the confusion about COVID-19 headlines and how to navigate the Thanksgiving weekend – Oct 8, 2021

Around this time last year, Londoners were told to stick to their households and avoid travelling as Thanksgiving arrived amid a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout Ontario.

While the pandemic is still around and things are far from what they used to be, the 2021 edition of the annual holiday offers a reason to feel more at ease around the dinner table.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccines and outdoors make for a safe Thanksgiving: MLHU

The Middlesex-London Health Unit says it’s safe to gather with those outside your household, so long as extra precautions are taken.

Those precautions include gathering outdoors and ensuring as many people as possible are vaccinated.

Jane Mills plans to do just that when her family travels to Chatham.

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“Last year, we couldn’t have Thanksgiving with our family, which was really sad, but this year we are going to attempt dinner Sunday and we are very excited about doing it,” Mills said.

“Everyone’s been vaccinated at our dinner we’re going to, except my two grandchildren who are 10 and 8 … possibly they’ll be accepted by Canada to have their vaccines hopefully by the end of November, I hope.”

Jane Mills says she’s excited to finally be able to spend Thanksgiving with family after last year’s restrictions squashed any gatherings. Andrew Graham / Global News

Jacob Ellis is heading to Collingwood for a Thanksgiving dinner and says he’s comforted by the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.

“A ton of people have them, all my friends have them, so I’m getting less and less worried about it, but obviously it’s still lingering,” Ellis said.

Read more: Unvaccinated relatives? Here are the risks around the Thanksgiving table

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“My family was definitely uncomfortable with even seeing our extended family (last year) … so it’s nice to be able to do that again.”

Jacob Ellis says his family wasn’t even comfortable seeing extended family last year, so he’s happy they can finally gather again. Andrew Graham / Global News

Sara Levesque has a small Thanksgiving planned with her mother.

“Just the two of us – there’s going to be way too much ham,” said Levesque.

Read more: 4th wave of COVID-19 no longer growing, cases could decline in coming weeks: PHAC

While she’s not too worried about getting infected over the weekend, Levesque hopes those who do plan to have larger gatherings take the recommended precautions.

“We got to just take it slow, people are trying to rush getting back together and going indoors.”

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Click to play video: 'Tam offers Thanksgiving advice as COVID-19 4th wave levels off in Canada' Tam offers Thanksgiving advice as COVID-19 4th wave levels off in Canada
Tam offers Thanksgiving advice as COVID-19 4th wave levels off in Canada – Oct 8, 2021

Dmytro Sereda is an international student who’ll be experiencing his first Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend.

“I’m just going to go with my host family to some kind of party at someone’s house. We’re going to have some dinner and talk about stuff and just have fun,” Sereda said.

As for the restrictions, Sereda thinks they should be more relaxed. He wants people to be vaccinated, but worries about seeing people pushed to get a shot through Ontario’s vaccine certificate system.

Either way, Sereda says he’s happy to spend the weekend not worrying about getting infected.

“I’m vaccinated, all my relatives are vaccinated, my mom, everybody I know, so I’m not worried about myself or people that I care about.”

This weekend will mark Dymtro Sereda’s first time enjoying a Canadian Thanksgiving. Andrew Graham / Global News

Ray Yusuf plans to spend the weekend working.

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He doesn’t have any family in London, having travelled to the city to find new work after experiencing a pandemic-related layoff from a job in Mississauga.

Read more: What’s open and closed in London, Ont. on Thanksgiving Monday 2021

The rest of his family, which Yusuf says is big enough to “fill up a banquet hall, maybe two” is spread throughout Ontario, as well as the U.K. and the U.S.

Yusuf hopes he can make it stateside for American Thanksgiving next month.

“I hope both governments open up the borders … anything is possible right?”

Click to play video: 'Change up your Thanksgiving feast with non-traditional sides' Change up your Thanksgiving feast with non-traditional sides
Change up your Thanksgiving feast with non-traditional sides – Oct 7, 2021

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