How to avoid leaving your house during self-isolation

Published: April 2, 2020

Self-isolation Photo by Shutterstock/Zigres

As COVID-19 cases continue to multiply across Canada, the federal government is introducing stronger restrictions to manage citizens’ movements. On March 23, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advised all Canadians to “go home and stay home.”

Since then, the government has banned foreign nationals from entering Canada; Quebec has closed its western border to non-essential travelers, and cabinet passed an order under the Quarantine Act requiring all people arriving from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days—defying this order could land you a $1 million fine or three years in prison.

These restrictions are serious, but it doesn’t make self-isolating any easier. How do you deal with groceries? How do you entertain rambunctious kids? How do you handle the stir-crazy fever that grips you after a week inside? We don’t have all the answers, but here are a few tips on how to avoid leaving your house:

Use a grocery delivery system

With the way COVID-19 is going, your stockpile of Kraft dinner and canned chili will eventually run out, forcing you to make a grocery run. But grocery stores are prime locations for social and physical interactions. People touch carts, they pick up and put back food, and the aisles are definitely not two metres wide.

Instead of taking the risk—especially if you’ve recently returned from abroad and aren’t supposed to leave the house—use a grocery delivery service. Instacart and PC Express deliver groceries from local stores across the country. PC Express even offers same-day delivery options. Certain chains, such as Walmart and Costco, are beginning to offer pick-up and delivery options as well.

If you do use a grocery delivery service, have the delivery person set the groceries down outside your home rather than handing them to you. Once you bring the groceries inside, dispose of all packaging, and wash and sanitize each item. This may seem extreme, but it’s better to be safe than infected.

Ask a neighbour for help

While you don’t want to endanger anyone else, you might have to ask for help during this pandemic. If you desperately need food or medical supplies but are forced to self-isolate due to recent travel or are stuck at home looking after the kids, coordinate with a loved one or neighbour.

In fact, it’s a good idea to do this even if you are allowed to leave your home. Reach out to neighbours or loved ones and see if there’s anything you can pick up for them while shopping. Maybe next time they can do the same for you. Either way, the fewer people out in public, the better.

When receiving supplies from a loved one or neighbour, make sure you follow similar guidelines to the grocery delivery service. Just because you know the person doesn’t mean you should be getting within two metres. Have them drop the supplies off outside of your home and send them a virtual thank you or wave through the window.

 Stay Remote

As tempting as it is to go for a walk with your friends down the street or invite them in for coffee, you’re putting yourself at risk of spreading the virus. Symptoms don’t present themselves immediately. So, even if friends and family seem healthy, they may still be carrying the virus.

If you are feeling disconnected, hop on a video call. Zoom allows you to speak with multiple people at once. Get creative and organize an online trivia night or card game. If you’re struggling to come up with game ideas, try the app Houseparty. It allows up to eight people to video chat and play built-in interactive games.

It goes without saying that these restrictions should also apply to work. Now that Ontario and Quebec have ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, everyone should be working from home. Avoid the office by using video conferencing, email, and tools such as Slack.  

 Avoid unnecessary risks

This is not the time to let your kid take up an extreme hobby. Sure, homeschooling is likely driving both of you crazy and anything that will keep them entertained probably sounds great, but next thing you know, your kids launched himself off of a homemade ramp in the backyard only to break a fibula.

The hospital’s emergency room is the last place you want to be right now. This is ground zero for COVID-19 patients. While hospitals are being extremely careful to contain the virus, without protective gear, you run the risk of becoming infected.

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And with the current influx of cases, hospitals across the country are being forced to cancel elective surgeries in order to free up space and hospital personnel. In the United States, they’re so desperate for hospital space that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with building temporary hospitals.

So, keep activities fun and entertaining, but mainly safe.   

Plan crafts, lessons, and activities for kids

Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford has extended school and child care closures until May 4, 2020, but he says this will not affect students’ graduation. To make this happen, the Ontario government is brainstorming tools for at-home learning. This includes connecting students and teachers via phone and email; training educators in virtual learning delivery, and requiring final report cards for all students.

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But this still means parents are stuck balancing jobs and kids at home for another month. To keep kids entertained, plan out lessons and activities for them. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents offers resources on curriculums and lessons. Certain institutions are stepping up as well.

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