Ontario's chief medical officer of health have some advice for little ghouls and goblins who are planning on going door to door in pursuit of candy.
In line with previous messaging from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner, the province's public health officials stress physical distancing and sticking to groups of household members only.
Both the province and the region's health unit recommend "extra precautions" for those planning to participate in trick-or-treating activities on Oct. 31.
Regions in Stage 3, such as Simcoe County and Muskoka District, are encouraged to follow these steps:
- Avoid gatherings with people outside of your household
- Stay home if you are feeling ill, even if you have mild symptoms, or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19
- Only go out with members of your household
- Only trick or treat outside
- Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering. A costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering and should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe.
- Choose costumes that allow a non-medical mask to be worn underneath. Make sure you can see and breathe comfortably.
- Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting. Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects
- Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer
- Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or other similar tools to hand out treats
- Do not travel outside your neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween
- When handing out candy, be more outside than inside. If you can, stand outside your door to hand out treats.
The province has created these posters, which you can hang in your window to let candy seekers know whether or not you are handing out treats.
A list of COVID-related Halloween safety tips from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is posted on their website.
Dr. Gardner encouraged those who are uncomfortable going out on Halloween or are high-risk for a more severe case of COVID to stay home.
“People always have the option not to trick-or-treat,” said Gardner. “Households have the option not to actually participate. If you feel vulnerable, or have a pre-existing medical condition, that would be a good reason not to participate in Halloween.”
Public Health Ontario provided suggestions for alternative ways to celebrate the most spooktacular night of the year, including
- Encouraging kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties;
- Organizing a Halloween candy hunt with people living in their own household;
- Carving pumpkins;
- Having a movie night or sharing scary stories; and
- Decorating front lawns.
Under the current emergency orders, it is against the law to host a gathering larger than ten people in a private home.