Coronavirus: Alberta Health issues guidelines for a safe and ‘scary for the right reasons’ Halloween

Oct. 1 is considered the start of “spooky season” for many and on Thursday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced a list of guidelines to allow people to have a safe Halloween amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have no plans to suggest Alberta cancel Halloween this year. My own children will never forgive me,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

“[We] have created a page with tips and advice on how you and your family can enjoy a Halloween that is fun, but is still scary for the right reasons.”

Read more: B.C. mom finds a very Canadian way to celebrate socially distanced Halloween

The guidelines break down advice for three popular Halloween activities: trick or treating, handing out candy and Halloween parties.

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Trick or treating

Much like the advice to generally stay home if you’re not feeling well, Hinshaw is asking trick or treaters to pass on the popular activity this year if they are feeling ill, even if those symptoms are minor.

For those who are feeling well, Hinshaw is asking everyone to minimize contact with others by trick or treating with your family or cohort. She also suggests staying within your community and staying two metres apart.

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When choosing a costume, Hinshaw recommends choosing something that will allow for a non-medical mask to be worn underneath, but stressed that people still need to be able to see clearly and breathe easily.

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When it comes time to get the candy, Hinshaw recommends yelling “trick or treat” two metres away from the front door or to knock instead of using the doorbell. She also recommends everyone uses hand sanitizer after touching any surfaces.

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Read more: Halloween sales could be weak with COVID-19 casting doubts on trick-or-treating

Once the night is over and you’re going over your haul, Hinshaw recommends washing your hands and disinfecting the packages before eating any candy.

Handing out candy

According to Hinshaw’s guidelines, anyone isolating because of COVID-19 or who is feeling ill shouldn’t hand out candy this year.

For households that are handing out treats, Hinshaw recommends asking treat-or-treaters to call out or knock, rather than using the doorbell. She also suggests wearing a non-medical mask and using tongs to hand out pre-packaged candy to avoid handling the treats as much as possible.

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If you want to get a little creative this year, Hinshaw suggests handing out treats on your driveway or front lawn if the weather permits, making candy bags and spacing them out on a table or blanket, or setting up a table or desk that keeps you distanced from all the ghouls and goblins.

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If you want to have even more fun with it, Hinshaw suggests creating a candy catapult or candy slide that would keep you from coming into contact with trick or treaters.

One thing Hinshaw recommends against this year is leaving out self-serve bowls of candy for trick-or-treaters to help themselves to.

Read more: Avoid trick-or-treating due to coronavirus this Halloween, CDC says

Albertans can also visit the government’s website to find printable posters that indicate whether they are handing treats out this year.

Halloween parties

Alberta has been recommending smaller gatherings since the pandemic hit in March, and Halloween will be no different.

Hinshaw recommends holding Halloween parties outside this year if possible. If the weather isn’t co-operating, she recommends you reduce your party size, choose a location that allows for physical distancing between families and cohorts and provide hand sanitizer.

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It’s also recommended that partygoers don’t share drinks, food, cigarettes, vapes or cannabis and that people wash or sanitize their hands often.

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Hinshaw also reiterated that those who aren’t feeling well, even if symptoms are mild, should stay home.

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