Get your little skeletons and witches ready because this year's Halloween is going to be much closer to normal. "Vaccination has made things much more safe," says Sumontra Chakrabarti, head of infectious diseases at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga.
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Kieran Moore, has already said trick-or-treating is a go, with certain caveats. While other provinces have yet to weigh in, the truth is, trick-or-treating is actually an inherently safe activity as it's outdoors and the interactions are short, says Chakrabarti.
Here are the ways to make Halloween as COVID-safe as possible for all involved:
Even though you're outdoors, there's no need for doorsteps to be crowded with multiple groups of witches and superheroes. Encourage your kids to wait their turn and only go up once the other group has left. And while in the past we might have told kids they couldn't get candy without calling out "Trick or Treat!" this year we should aim for a short, quiet interaction—a quick "Thank you", will do—then clear the doorway for the next group.
If you have any symptoms of illness, you should sit this Halloween out. That means your kids should stay home if they're feeling unwell and you shouldn't hand out candy, either. While this will undoubtedly disappoint your kid, it's necessary to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.
COVID-19 isn't spread on surfaces, so there's no need to wash candy or let it sit for 48 hours before letting your kids eat it, says Chakrabarti. That said, good hand hygiene still applies—make sure your kids wait until you get home before they dive into their treats and have them wash their hands well before digging in.
Halloween and masks naturally go together—just make sure your kid is wearing a proper two or three-layer cloth or medical mask and not relying on the costume mask for protection. That said, there are plenty of Halloween-themed masks out there and you can even incorporate some right into the costume.
Adults handing out candy should wear a mask if they can't keep a good distance from others, recommends Moore.
When it comes to outdoor and indoor Halloween parties, you should follow your area's rules on number of people allowed at gatherings and also use your own personal-risk assessment when it comes to getting together with people who aren't vaccinated, says Chakrabarti. Remember though, that with COVID-19, outdoors is always safer and, of course, you should stay home (or don't host a party) if you're sick.
If possible, trick-or-treating outdoors, rather than in buildings, will also reduce your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.
Just because trick-or-treating is on the table, it doesn't mean you need to participate if you're not comfortable. There are plenty of ways to have a fun-filled evening that doesn't involve going door-to-door. You can have a video call with extended family or a group of friends to show off your kid's costume, make a list of common Halloween decorations and go on a neighbourhood scavenger hunt to find them or stay indoors and enjoy a Halloween-themed movie and some festive snacks.