Halloween is around the corner and some ghosts and ghouls across the country are preparing for the haunted holiday. But things are likely to be different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada’s top public doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam, says Halloween doesn’t need to be cancelled, as long as those celebrating follow advice to keep safe during the pandemic. Here in B.C., Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also says Halloween can go ahead, with modifications.
On Oct. 26, a record high of 817 new COVID-19 cases were reported in B.C. over a three-day period. As a result, Henry placed a new provincial health order restricting gatherings in private homes to no more than immediate household members and a “safe six” additional people.
A “safe six” is a group of close friends or extended family that have agreed mutually to be in each other’s exclusive social bubble. While these people might be welcome in your home, Henry says physical contact is not recommended. The “safe six” still may be too many people for some homes depending on space and how many people already live together, Henry says.
Using guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), The Discourse has put together a list of how to have a safe, pandemic friendly Halloween this year.
Keeping it small
The BCCDC is directing residents to skip Halloween parties this year. Indoor gatherings, regardless of size, put people at higher risk of getting COVID-19, the health centre says.
Instead, the BCCDC recommends people celebrate with a spooky movie night or other traditions that can be done within the household or a small social group. With the new orders in effect, this means people should stick to their “safe six” plus those in their household, if space allows.
Those who choose to celebrate with others should also know everyone who attends (no plus-ones). The BCCDC says to not pass around snacks, drinks, smokes, tokes and vapes and spend more time outside than inside. Spaces should be well-ventilated with windows open. Props like smoke machines that can cause coughing should be avoided.
Hand sanitizer is also flammable, so the health centre warns people to be careful around open flames.
Younger witches and wizards and their families can still trick-or-treat this year, the BCCDC says. The health centre recommends staying in local neighbourhoods with a small social group of six people, maximum. Space should be left between groups to reduce crowding and hands should be washed before going out, when arriving at home and before eating treats. If eating treats on the go, the BCCDC recommends keeping hand sanitizer handy. Instead of cleaning every treat, hands should be washed after handling them and people should avoid touching their face. Trick-or-treating indoors (like in malls) or in busy areas should be avoided.
For those handing out treats, the BCCDC recommends getting creative. Residents can use tongs, a baking sheet or make a candy slide to give more space when handing out candy. Plans should be made to hand out individual treats instead of offering a shared bowl. Only sealed, pre-packaged treats should be handed out.
A non-medical face mask that covers the nose and mouth should be worn by those giving out treats and people are encouraged to wait outside, if possible, so kids don’t need to touch the doorbell. If sitting outside isn’t an option, the BCCDC says doorbells, knobs, handrails and any other high-touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected throughout the evening.
Things to keep in mind
The BCCDC says those who are sick or self-isolating should stay home and turn off their porch lights.
The health centre also recommends trying to incorporate a non-medical mask or face covering as part of costumes this year. However, costume masks should not be worn over non-medical masks or face coverings as that may make it hard to breathe.