TORONTO — Trick-or-treating is back this year — just not too loudly.
Last year, the province recommended kids in the COVID-19 hot spots of Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York regions not go trick-or-treating, but this year, Ontario’s top doctor says children should feel free to go door to door.
It should happen outdoors as much as possible, with kids wearing a face mask _ not a costume mask, not crowding door steps, or shouting too loudly, Dr. Kieran Moore said.
“It’s just not to yell too exuberantly,” he said.
“Clearly you have to make your presence known to get your treat, and you have to be able to knock as well as ask for the treat. We just ask not with a high volume that could potentially aerosolize. It’s an abundance of caution.”
More traditional Thanksgiving celebrations can also go ahead this year, though with some COVID-19 precautions still in place, Moore said. Last year, gatherings were limited to immediate households, with many families seeing their extended loved ones virtually.
“But thanks to our collective efforts to get vaccinated and to follow public health guidance, we are able to gather together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, provided public health measures are followed,” he said.
People should use outdoor spaces whenever possible. When everyone is vaccinated, people can gather indoors without masks, but if there are people from multiple households and some guests are unvaccinated, people should wear face coverings and physically distance, he said.
As always, people should stay home if experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, Moore said, but otherwise, they should be able to enjoy time with friends and family.
“I am only too aware of the negative impacts the social isolation can have and the need to spend time with our loved ones,” he said.
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“That is why we want families to embrace the opportunity to get together for their mental, physical and social well-being.”
Moore also said a number of recent outbreaks have been associated with weddings, and he notes that next week proof of vaccination will be required to attend weddings and funerals in meeting and event spaces.
Here are some of Dr. Kieran Moore’s guidelines for those celebrating with people from outside their household:
If possible, go virtual
Moore says virtual celebrations are still the safest option, particularly for those who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Smaller is better
The chief medical officer of health says smaller gatherings are always safer, and it’s important to follow public health rules. That means indoor gatherings should be capped at 25, and those outdoors can’t exceed 100.
“Have the fewest number of people possible at your gathering,” provincial guidelines read.
Keep it clean
Ensure hand sanitizer, soap and water are accessible so everyone can wash their hands frequently, particularly when preparing and serving food, and before and after eating.
Event organizers should also clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
If in doubt, stay home
Moore says anyone with any symptoms — even if they’re mild — should stay home, lest they spread the virus to their loved ones.
He says those who are immunocompromised or unvaccinated should also consider attending virtually or not at all.
Wear a mask
Moore notes that anyone can wear a mask or keep a physical distance if it feels right, regardless of their vaccination status.
But he said it’s more important to wear a face covering and keep a distance when some people at an indoor gathering are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.
Those attending outdoor gatherings with people who are not fully vaccinated should wear a mask if it’s not possible to keep a physical distance.
Moore said it’s OK for a group of fully vaccinated people gathering together to take off the masks, if everyone is comfortable with that.