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Trick-or-treating trickier but possible in 2020, says health unit

Consider tongs for handing out candy, add a cloth mask to your costume, and keep your distance, advises the region's medical officer of health
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So far, there’s no public health advice against trick-or-treating for Halloween, but that could change.

The region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner, said today people could participate, but they should follow some safety measures.

In all things, including trick-or-treating, the doctor recommends people stick to their household groups and keep their distance from anyone not in that group.

“All of that will always be important throughout the duration of the pandemic,” said Gardner.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has posted recommendations for safe trick-or-treating to its website, and the advice includes only trick-or-treating outdoors, avoiding any lingering or congregation at doorsteps and avoiding high-touch surfaces.

The recommendations also suggest using tongs or other similar tools to hand out treats in a way that maintains physical distancing.

Costume masks are not a substitute for a face covering, and both the trick-or-treaters and those handing out candy should be wearing a face covering, states the health unit.

“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.”

The health unit’s approach-with-caution advice could change. Gardner noted the province could weigh-in on Oct. 31 activities soon.

“There might be changes coming from the province with regards to the approach for Halloween this year,” he said.

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has also said trick-or-treating should be possible this year provided everyone takes precautions.

Dr. Tam noted the safest way to participate in outdoor trick-or-treating is by respecting physical distancing, wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer often, and ensuring all treats are pre-packaged.

She urged parents to listen to local public health authorities on the matter.

A list of COVID-related Halloween safety tips from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, is posted on their website.