Get your tongs ready: How to have a safer 2020 Halloween in Waterloo

Click to play video 'B.C. mom uses humour to show how to have a socially-distanced Halloween' B.C. mom uses humour to show how to have a socially-distanced Halloween
WATCH: B.C. mom uses humour to show how to have a socially-distanced Halloween.

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and families wanting to give kids a sense of normal, health officials have offered suggestions for a safer Halloween.

Waterloo Region’s top doctor says she would prefer if people skipped trick-or-treating for other celebratory options but understands people may choose to do otherwise.

“I would like them to consider lower-risk activities and I would like them as much as possible to do activities only within their immediate household,” Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region’s acting medical officer of health, said during a media briefing on Tuesday.

Read more: Bingemans in Kitchener is offering drive-thru trick-or-treat alternative

If not simply family, Wang suggested keeping the party to a minimum with a close group of friends.

She provided alternative options such as pumpkin decorating; a virtual costume party; a Halloween movie night, sharing spooky stories or an outdoor trick-or-treat scavenger hunt in the backyard.

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“If you choose to go out trick-or-treating, only go out with members of your immediate household,” Wang said. “Physically distance and wear a face covering with anyone outside of your immediate household.”

Click to play video 'Paying it forward this Halloween' Paying it forward this Halloween
Paying it forward this Halloween

On the same morning, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said trick-or-treating could proceed as long as participants follow physical distancing and other safety protocols.

“So there are ways to actually manage this, outdoors in particular,” Tam told a news briefing Tuesday in Ottawa.

She suggested that people could figure out ways to make masks a proper part of their costume.

Read more: 52% of Canadian parents won’t let kids trick-or-treat amid coronavirus: poll

Wang also spoke about the importance of properly incorporating masks into Halloween activities.

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“Trick-or-treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering, not a costume mask, she explained. “A costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering and should not be worn over a face covering.”

She explained that wearing two masks could present unnecessary breathing issues.

Read more: Dad hopes his ‘candy chute’ design will save Halloween during COVID-19

Tam mentioned handing out treats on a hockey stick, or using pool noodles to separate kids from homeowners at their front doors with her Waterloo counterpart offering similar thoughts.

“Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab,” Wang offered. “Use tongs or other similar tools to hand out treats.”

She suggests parents remind their kids to wait their turn — with proper distancing — when collecting candy, and to move on quickly once they get their treat.

Her top suggestions, though it might seem obvious, bears repeating:

“Stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild or you recently had a negative COVID test,” Wang said.

“Physically distance and wear a face covering with anyone else outside of your immediate household, regardless of the legal limits.”