It’s a Halloween unlike any other.
Health concerns over COVID-19 have factored into this year’s celebrations with officials in Simcoe Muskoka by no means discouraging trick-or-treating, but urging kids and parents to take pre-cautions, and the same goes for those who will be shelling out the treats.
“People should not be going trick-or-treating if they have symptoms or if they are feeling unwell,” says Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka Medical Officer of Health. “You shouldn’t be providing treats if you are unwell.”
Gardner says anyone participating in Halloween activities needs to be wearing a face covering and not just the costume mask. And that goes for people who are providing candy at the door.
“If you can find a way of handing out candy that allows for physical distancing such as tongs would be a good idea.”
He says avoid congregating or lingering at a doorway, and the region’s top doctor also recommends taking hand sanitizer with you.
“We would also say that those who are trick-or-treating need to stick to their household as they go around the neighbourhood.”
Gardner says don’t feel that you have to participate in Halloween.
“If you feel vulnerable, or if you have a pre-existing medical condition, then that would be a good reason not to participate in Halloween.”
Experts say other ways to celebrate Halloween without trick-or-treating can include telling scary stories or going on a scavenger hunt for candy.
Public health officials in Ontario’s COVID-19 hot spots such as Toronto, Ottawa, York and Peel are urging people to take a pass on Halloween this year.
In Quebec, Premier Francois Legault has said that in his province, Halloween is for kids this year — no adult gatherings allowed.
Tips from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit:
As you prepare for Halloween this year, we would like you to take extra precautions to ensure you are keeping yourself and your families safe.
Families that want to be most cautious can choose no trick or treating, or handing out candy, and instead can celebrate with special activities in your own household such as a virtual costume contest, candy scavenger hunt, pumpkin carving, watching a scary movie or decorating your home.
If you choose to participate in trick or treating and handing out candy you should follow some simple steps:
- Avoid gatherings with people outside of your household.
- Stay home if feeling ill even if you have mild symptom, or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19
- Only go out with members of your direct household.
- Only trick or treat outside.
- Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering. A costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering and should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe.
- Consider building your face covering into your, or your child’s, costume.
- Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps. Line up two metres (six feet) apart if waiting.
- Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects.
- Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly or use hand sanitizer.
- Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab.
- Consider using tongs, or other similar tools to hand out treats.
- Consider printing one of these posters as a tool to help let your neighbours know whether you are handing out treats.