Halloween is a go with certain restrictions in Quebec as the novel coronavirus health crisis continues.
Premier François Legault announced the decision Thursday, saying trick-or-treating will be permitted across the province Oct. 31. He said he knows how important the holiday is for children, especially given the last few months.
“Halloween happens outside,” he said. “We know that outside is less risky than indoors.”
However, there are rules in place due to the pandemic.
Groups are limited to people who live in the same household and parties are not permitted. Those giving out candy must maintain a two-metre distance from trick-or-treaters, so Legault suggests putting a basket outside with bags of goodies.
“It’s not ideal but children can dress up, they can go in the streets of Quebec,” he said.
Psychologist Ann Emery said allowing Halloween to go ahead, even with restrictions is welcome news.
She pointed to how children have had to give up a lot throughout the pandemic, from foiled birthday plans, to missed months of school and opportunities for socialization, and in some cases they’ve had to face the tragic loss of a loved one.
“Getting a modified Halloween will most likely feel like a win for many of our kids and they need a win right now,” she said.
Emery offered a few tips for parents to ensure kids get the most of their Halloween.
She reminded parents it’s important that they check in on their own anxiety levels while going door-to-door for treats.
“Kids pick up on our cues and if we are on edge for the entire neighbourhood visit, trick-or-treating may not be a fun experience and kids’ own worry thoughts may increase,” she said.
Emery also hinted that trick-or-treating might not be the way to go for some kids who may have trouble sticking to the rules, such as social distancing.
“If you think you may be setting your child up for disaster with continuous shouts of “wait your turn!!” then a Halloween scavenger hunt around the house or in your backyard may be a safer and more enjoyable way to go,” she said.
She also suggested other ways kids could be involved such as flickering the lights on and off when trick-or-treaters ring the doorbell.
The important thing, she said, is “pick a role where you know that your child will experience success.”
Emery also said practicing for a modified Halloween could be beneficial.
“Take turns practicing and breaking and correcting the rules,” she said. “Create a code word or sound that can act as a warning that we are too close to someone outside of our bubble that you can use to remind each other to keep a safe distance.”
While a lot of bad has come of the pandemic, Emery believes children are learning to be more flexible and adaptive — skills she says will “serve them well throughout their lives.”
The decision to greenlight Halloween comes as Quebec reported 969 new cases and 28 additional deaths linked to the pandemic Thursday.
Health authorities say eight of those deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, while 20 were counted retroactively.
The COVID-19 caseload stands at 89,963, the highest in the country. The health crisis also reached a grim milestone, with 6,005 deaths in the province to date.
Hospitalizations also went up again. There are five more patients, bringing the total to 493. Of those patients, 83 are in intensive care, an increase of three from the previous day.
Legault said that the number of new cases appears to have plateaued, which is good news, but that it hasn’t started to drop.
“Is it enough? No, it is not enough. We must succeed in reducing the number of cases,” Legault said.
He also admitted the partial lockdown restrictions in place for designated red zones, such as Montreal and Quebec City, could be extended until at least Oct. 28.
In those regions, people are prohibited from having others over with few exceptions. Bars, museums, gyms, theatres and other establishments are also closed.
“We don’t know what will happen in the next two weeks but I wanted to be honest with Quebecers that some of the measures we put in place for 28 days could be longer,” Legault said.
The most recent testing data shows that Quebec carried out 24,612 tests Tuesday. To date, 2,723,045 tests have been administered.
— With files from the Canadian PressView link »