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