Holiday Office Party: Vigilant Companies

The discovery of the Omicron variant prompts Quebec companies to wonder if they will maintain their traditional party Christmas desktop. While some have already made the decision to cancel, many are monitoring the situation closely and awaiting directives from Public Health before changing their minds.

At Rodeo FX, a digital visual effects studio, the situation is closely analyzed and we hope to be able to maintain the Christmas party planned for mid-December. “We expect to know more on December 6,” says Robin Sempere, in charge of public relations.

Public Health must give more details on the health rules for the holiday season next Monday. The impacts of the new variant, potentially more contagious, are not yet clear.

For its part, Ubisoft was already organizing a Christmas party for its employees in hybrid format, with an online show and an immersive in-person journey. At the communications firm Tact, the development of the situation is closely monitored. The company had planned a party at the end of January in New York and wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate its 10th anniversary. “A month ago, we were more optimistic,” says Daniel Matte, founding partner.

“We told the team that we do not know if, in the end, it would be done,” he adds, adding that nothing has yet been booked. “We are watching the development of the situation and we will comply with the sanitary rules,” he said.

The seven Randolph playful pubs, which offer an “all-inclusive” Christmas party formula, recorded their first cancellation on Monday. An employer also asked to convert the event initially planned face-to-face to virtual.

Pub manager Martin Montreuil expects to receive more such requests in the coming weeks. The threat of Omicron looms. “Of course, as an employer, they don’t want to take any risks,” he says. Randolph says he follows the instructions of Public Health to the letter.

For its part, the Association Restauration Québec (ARQ) reports that it has not heard of any cancellations and that the reservation period is going well. “We will take the time to follow what is happening and see what Christian Dubé [le ministre de la Santé] will say, ”says the director of public and government affairs, Martin Vézina.

On the Capitol side in Quebec, where rooms can be rented, “nothing has changed so far” and no client has canceled their visit for the holiday season. “We are always on the lookout for the latest news on health measures,” says Anne-Marie Noreau, communications and marketing manager.

Hard to say

Should we hold office parties or not? Roxane Borgès Da Silva, professor at the School of Public Health of the University of Montreal, struggles to decide the question. The Omicron variant is muddling the waters, she said. “With the advent of the Omicron variant for which we have no information on its resistance to vaccination and on the development of severe symptoms or not, it is difficult to say,” she said.

Before the appearance of Omicron, Roxane Borgès Da Silva considered “minimal” the risk of holding an office party in a restaurant that requires a health passport. It is now difficult to position yourself, she thinks.

However, she considers that the current health rules concerning office parties are “inconsistent”. She reminds that a maximum of 25 people is accepted in a rented private room, but that in restaurants, group reservations are authorized without a limit of participants (provided that ten people are seated per table).

“If in a restaurant, we can be 100, why in a private room, if there is possible distance, we can not be 100? she asks. Are the restaurants better ventilated than the private rooms? There are a lot of questions that arise. “

At a press briefing Monday, the Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé stressed that “it is not allowed to rent a chalet to go to his office party”. “The rule is the same [que pour les rassemblements dans les maisons] : it is ten people maximum ”, he specified.

With Marie-Eve Cousineau

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