With summer quickly drawing to a close and temperatures beginning to dip, children (and probably quite a few adults, too) may be starting to ask themselves a very important question: What should I dress up as for Halloween this year?
But perhaps there is a bigger question: What will Halloween even look like this year?
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year unlike any other in recent memory, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting everything from concerts to weddings, backyard barbecues to the film and television industry, and, maybe most notably, the way we interact with each other.
So, with a little over a month to go until gangs of ghouls, goblins and ghosts are ringing doorbells across Canada hoping to receive their favourite sweet treat, there are likely many Canadians, both young and old, wondering how the coronavirus will impact Halloween.
Cancelling or halting Halloween wouldn’t be unprecedented. In 2019, Halloween celebrations across many municipalities in Quebec were postponed due to severe weather.
The subject of moving forward with Halloween has come up recently during Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s public briefings.
“If you want to have a really enjoyable Halloween the best thing we can all do is keep our case counts low,” Hinshaw said. “Look out for each other and make sure that we’re following our public health guidance right now so that we set ourselves up for success and the opportunity to have an enjoyable Halloween.”
Microbiologist Jason Tetro sees trick-or-treating as a medium-risk activity due to it largely taking place outdoors, but cautions that additional safety measures beyond wearing a face mask and practising physical distancing should still be in place.
“You want to make sure you’re hanging around and going up and down the street with people that you know, and that you know their status,” Tetro said.
For those with concerns about handling candy, Tetro recommends putting the treats in a corner or outside for upwards of six hours to let any possible virus die off, and to keep hands sanitized if you plan on handing over any treats to your costumed visitors.
While Tetro expects Halloween to bring heightened levels of concern, he thinks that could lead to more compliance with public health orders from parents and children.
“I truly predict we’re going to have a really safe Halloween,” he said. “A lot of people are going to have a lot of fun. I really just hope that everyone does that by sticking to the rules.”