Halloween safety from the NWHU


Halloween isn’t cancelled, but it will look a little different this year. The Northwestern Health Unit has come out with new guidelines to make trick-or-treating through a pandemic a little less scary.

“Yes, people can enjoy halloween. It’s an outdoor activity; that makes it less risky. But it’s important to still follow public health measures as you’re trick-or-treating or celebrating halloween,” said Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, medical officer of health for the NWHU. “It’s important to be physically distancing with people who are not in your household.”

Use tongs, hockey sticks, or other innovative way to give out treats from a distance, she said, being careful to limit the number of times each item is touched.

“So not having bowls of treats that kids stick their hand into,” she said. “You want to have individually packaged treats or treats that are separated, so that when a child is getting their treat, they’re not accidentally touching a lot of the other candy.”

Good hand hygiene for both candy providers and trick-or-treaters is also important, she said. Frequent sanitizing or hand washing throughout the evening can help reduce the chance of transmission.

“If you’re sick or unwell, avoid trick-or-treating and avoid giving out treats and avoid hosting any type of gathering,” she said. Citizens will be required to adhere to gathering limits of 10 indoor or 25 outdoor, she noted. But that doesn’t mean close contact is allowed between households.

“Even though that means 10 people can gather, if you’re from a separate household, we’re encouraging people to keep that two metre distance,” she said.

NWHU Tips for a safe Halloween

From www.NWHU.on.ca and the government of Ontario

If handing out treats:

  • Set up a trick-or-tre​at station outside.

  • Portion treats out ahead of time to allow for touchless trick or treating. Children can simply take one portion from the table to minimize contact. Avoid putting treats in a bowl that children grab themselves.

  • Wear a mask and consider using tongs to hand out treats.

  • Sanitize hands often and stay 2 metres from others.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

    If going door-to-door:

  • Stay home if you are feeling sick.

  • Maintain 2 metres from others while trick or treating. Do not gather at doorsteps. Line up and wait if needed.

  • Only trick or treat with people you live with.

  • Trick or treat outdoors only.

  • Choose a costume that you can wear a non-medical mask with. A costume mask does not replace a non-medical mask.

  • Wash your hands before and after trick or treating. Bring hand sanitizer with you.

  • Consider not touching the treats collected for 24 hours. Have some ready-to-enjoy favourites set aside for when you get home.

Other Halloween ideas:

  • Have an online costume party.

  • Arrange for contactless delivery of spooky crafts or treats with friends and family.

  • Set up a scavenger hunt filled with treats for your family.

  • Pick out some Halloween themed books to read together.

  • Carving pumpkins;

  • Having a movie night or sharing scary stories

  • Decorating front lawns.

If celebrating at school:

  • Students can’t share food at school. If sending food for the class, items must be pre-packaged from the store and handed out by the teacher. Choose healthy snacks.

  • Students must wear a cloth face mask at school (required for grades 4-12, encouraged for K-3) rather than a Halloween mask and avoid costume add-ons such as props or toys.

  • Connect classrooms virtually on smart boards for costume parades or Halloween dances. Maintain physical distance and prevention measures during Halloween activities.

If attending a Halloween event, please note that provincial gathering restrictions apply. The limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored private social gathering in Ontario is:​

  • 10 people indoors

  • 25 people outdoors

  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings cannot be merged together. Gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.

These limits do not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, places of worship, recreational sporting or performing art events.