The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) “strongly recommended” against traditional ways of celebrating Halloween that would involve coming into contact with people outside your household. The unit singled out trick-or-treating, handing out treats, and organized community and municipal events as high risk for transmission.
“I understand that kids as well as many adults look forward to Halloween at this time of year, but we want everyone to remain safe,” stated Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise, this means finding ways to celebrate that don’t increase the risk of spreading the virus.”
For those who still want to celebrate with friends, Dr. Roumeliotis suggested holding virtual costume parties or Halloween decoration competitions. An at-home candy hunt, scary movie on the couch or in the backyard, or eating a “fun and spooky” meal would keep the spooky spirit going without turning the night into a real-life horror story.
Despite recommending against it, EOHU asked people who still planned to trick-or-treat to follow extra safety precautions. Costumes should allow a non-medical mask to be worn, the unit said, and participants should go only with their immediate household.
Rather than going straight to the door, trick-or-treaters should stay two metres away from an entrance and call out “trick-or-treat” instead. Hand sanitizer would be as essential to trick-or-treating this year as a costume or a candy bag, EOHU said, and should be used before handling candy or touching high-contact surfaces.
For those handing out treats, EOHU recommends using hand sanitizer or hand-wash frequently, staying two metres away from trick-or-treaters, and using prepacked goodies rather than making them at home. Residents could also leave the treats outside on a blanket and leave markers to encourage children to stay a safe distance from one another.
“If you or your children are sick or self-isolating, don’t go out trick-or-treating and don’t hand out treats,” EOHU said in a statement. “Stay at home and turn off your porch light to discourage trick-or-treaters from coming to the door.”
So far, Casselman is the only Prescott-Russell municipality that has officially cancelled Halloween. It has also announced that special community safety and fire department patrols would not take place. Those who do want to trick or treat, however, would not be fined for doing so.