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Tuesday, October 26, 2021 | 4:30 p.m. | Windsor-Essex County

With Halloween season upon us, it is important to celebrate safely by remaining vigilant and following public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. The key to a fun and safe Halloween is to limit the number of contacts by keeping gatherings small and staying local.

Do not participate in any Halloween festivities if you are feeling ill, have symptoms of COVID-19 (even if they are mild), or have been told to isolate. While health and safety measures remain a top priority, we encourage parents, families, and individuals to participate by decorating as they usually would to create the spirit of Halloween in our community. To celebrate Halloween safely this year, consider the following:

If you plan to trick-or-treat door-to-door this year:

  • Trick-or-treat from a distance – Although trick-or-treating is an outdoor activity, there are still no zero-risk situations, therefore following the rules of physical distancing will be extremely important. Always stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from people outside of your household. This includes waiting for the trick-or-treaters in front of you to collect their treats before proceeding. Do not sing or shout for your treats.
  • Wear a mask or face covering – Everyone who is participating in trick-or-treating must wear a mask or face covering. Make sure your child’s costume allows them to wear a mask or face covering comfortably. Costume masks are not a substitute for a proper non-medical or medical face covering.
  • Limit the number of houses you visit – Reduce the number of houses you visit to limit contacts and exposure to COVID-19. Stay in your neighbourhood and limit the number of houses you visit.
  • Avoid large groups and Halloween parties – Reducing the number of contacts will be critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19 this Halloween. It is recommended families trick-or-treat only with their household members to avoid large groups. If you choose to gather with those outside of your household, consider limiting to only those that are fully vaccinated or keep it outdoors.
  • Practice frequent hand washing and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer – Make sure your child’s costume allows them to easily wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We strongly recommend families thoroughly wash their hands before and after trick-or-treating and apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer often throughout the night

Although trick-or-treating indoors is not recommended, if you plan to do so, maintain physical distancing as much as possible and wear a face covering, especially when physical distancing is a challenge.

Handing Out Treats:

  • Practice frequent hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer – Before putting out treats and throughout the night, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands. If hand washing is not available, we recommend the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Consider providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer for children to use between houses as some parents may forget to bring theirs. There is no need to clean or disinfect pre-packaged treats.
  • Give treats from a distance – Use tongs to hand out candy, a table to spread out treats or other creative ways to share while keeping distance should be a priority. Also, consider sitting outside to avoid the need to open the door or ring the doorbell. Handing out treats at the end of the driveway will make it easy to avoid lineups and potential crowds.
  • Provide individual treats and avoid handmade treats – Providing individual and prepackaged treats or individual treat bags will prevent multiple children from dipping their hands into the same bowl, creating a contact-free Halloween!
  • Wear a mask or face covering – The most enjoyable part of Halloween is seeing all of the creative costumes and hearing kids say “Trick-or-Treat!” When outside, you must wear a non-medical or medical mask or face covering so you can enjoy the night as safely as possible. 
  • Place physical distancing markers – Decorating your house for Halloween this year may look slightly different. To promote physical distancing on your driveway, mark out 2 metre (6 feet) spaces using tape for trick-or-treaters to stand while waiting their turn. 
  • No screaming – If you are decorating your home, avoid anything that may cause kids to scream or cough as this can increase the spread of respiratory droplets. No smoke machines or scary props this Halloween.

Trick-or-treating is not the only way you can safely celebrate Halloween.  Here are some additional ideas for celebrating Halloween at home:

  • Create an at home trick-or-treat hunt – Whether it’s an outdoor backyard or indoor hunt, hide your child’s favourite treats or toys and create your very own at home trick-or-treat hunt! This way children can still celebrate and wear their costumes. Instead of treats, you can also gift your child with something else they will enjoy and that can benefit their health (i.e., healthy snacks, outdoor toys, a Halloween book, etc.).
  • Host a virtual costume party – We have all relied on technology to connect with our family and friends this year, so why not do the same to celebrate Halloween? Get dressed up and video-call with family or friends to have a costume contest and make spooky crafts.
  • Enjoy a family Halloween night – Spend your Halloween night enjoying time as a family, those in your household, by watching a classic Halloween movie, carving pumpkins, attending a virtual haunted house, decorating spooky treats, and more!
  • Deliver treats to family and friends – Spread cheer by delivering a Halloween goodie bag or pumpkin on the doorsteps of friends and loved ones as a contact-free way to celebrate. Ensure that you wash hands when handling any materials and stand back from the doorway.

Some additional recommendations for safe Halloween gatherings:

  • Abide by all measures in the Reopening Ontario Act and follow local restrictions. Visit the health unit’s website for a list of current rules and guidelines.
  • Celebrate outdoors whenever possible.
  • Keep distance and wear masks when 2m of physical distancing cannot be maintained outside of while eating and drinking.
  • Keep your group to the smallest number of people possible as the more people that come to an event the more likely for an exposure to the virus to occur.
  • Monitor your guest list to ensure everyone is vaccinated.
  • Ask all attendees to complete the online COVID-19 self-assessment honestly, and arrange for alternative lower risk celebrations (such as virtual) if they are not able to attend.

For more information about events and gatherings, visit the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit website

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