As Manitobans prepare to pause and celebrate the holidays alone, health professionals continue to feel the pressure.

Case numbers may be stable but hospitals and care homes continue to be a busy place. In some places, such as at Seven Oaks Hospital, the staff have been too busy for Christmas decorations. Busy days and concerns over COVID are causing stress among the staff.

"There is a bit of anxiety about what still is to come and how bad could it be. So we are really hoping that everyone stays vigilant," Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa says.

Workers are concerned about their own Christmas celebrations with their families as well as a potential spike in case people gather against public health orders.

"We have to make sure from an administrative perspective that they get time off to rest and recharge themselves over the holidays as much as possible."

This Christmas, Manitobans are asked to celebrate the holiday together, but physically apart.

"It is going to be a very different type of holiday for everyone," Health Minister Cameron Friesen says.

Manitoba continues to be at Level Red on the Pandemic System Response Plan, restricting household gatherings under the direction of the Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin. This is due in part to concerns over hospital capacity, something the province's healthcare facilities are already grappling with. 

The Health Minister says he has hope for people will be gathering in person in the future but asks Manitobans to find other ways to celebrate for the time being.

"You can still connect. And you can connect in other ways. I am just amazed at how people are reading those rules and finding out how they can comply but still forming connections."

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Jazz Atwal is concerned after seeing Manitobans continue to go out despite having mild COVID-19 symptoms such as a cough or fever. he says Manitonbas must stay home to keep each other safe.

Friesen says in his own community of Morden/Winkler he has seen how people are spreading Christmas cheer at a distance by blasting Christmas music from decorating trucks or leaving presents in yards. In Winnipeg, residents continue to spread cheer with Christmas floats, food deliveries, and other things. 

Toy donations continue to be collected for children in hospitals. At Seven Oaks, a dispatch aid has been bringing Christmas joy to those in care with her singing.

"I like to sing all the time," Shirley Platon says.

Visitor restrictions are changing in Manitoban hospitals, but only for specific support reasons. Social visits continue to not be allowed. People providing translation services, helping patients understand discharge instructions, in pediatric care, postpartum, and other critical care could be eligible to have an aid with them.