Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 23, 2020

Health unit offers tips to reduce COVID risks at Halloween

The Brant County Health Unit has developed guidelines to make Halloween safe and fun for everyone.

“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses, like COVID-19,” said Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke, Brant’s acting medical officer of health. “We’d ask that all residents refrain completely from attending costume parties held indoors or outdoors, and going to indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming.”

She said that handing out treats from the trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots – often called trunk-or-treat events – is also considered a high-risk activity.

“We recommend staying within your own neighbourhood and avoiding areas where there would be large gatherings,”

The health unit has posted a Halloween and COVID-19 fact sheet on its website, outlining steps to be taken if families decide to opt for modified door-to-door trick-or-treating.

While considered a moderate risk, if going door-to-door, the health unit recommends wearing a non-medical face mask or face covering as part of a costume. A costume mask with two or more layers of breathable fabric covering the nose and mouth can be suitable, but should not be worn in addition to non-medical masks as the combination may cause breathing difficulty, says the health unit.

Here are some other tips from the health unit:

• Trick-or-treating should only be done outdoors in your own neighbourhood, avoiding homes that have their lights turned off.

• Travel only with people from your household, and observe physical distancing on crowded sidewalks and doorsteps.

• Wash your hands before going to trick-or-treat and when you return home, and use hand sanitizer frequently while out.

• While treats collected don’t need to be cleaned, they shouldn’t be eaten until you get home. Hand washing and avoiding touching your face is important after handling treats.

• For people who will be handing out treats at their homes, the health unit suggests standing outside your door so children won’t have to touch the doorbell or door.

• Only pre-packaged treats should be given out, and the use of tongs, a baking sheet or making a candy slide will allow for better physical distancing.

• If you are unable to remain outside to shell out treats, don’t leave a large bowl for children to help themselves. Frequently touched surfaces such as railings, doorbells and knobs should be disinfected regularly.

• The use of smoke machines as part of a decorative display is discouraged as they may cause visitors to cough.

If you decide not to go trick-or-treating door-to-door, the health unit has a number of suggestions for lower risk activities. (Continued: Brantford Expositor) https://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/news/local-news/health-unit-offers-tips-to-reduce-covid-risks-at-halloween

Halloween, COVID-19, costumes, trick or treat, grouch, social distancing, pandemic, coronavirus