Guidelines for Halloween during a pandemic

Halloween creativity will have to cranked up an extra notch this year as trick-or-treaters try to incorporate surgical masks into their costumes, build candy delivery slides, and find alternatives to smoke machines.

The B.C. Centre of Disease Control has released guidelines on the best way to celebrate Halloween while remaining safe and reducing the risk of exposure or transmission.

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Some of the guidelines include advice heard since the beginning of the pandemic, including to wash your hands and sanitize often, while other tips include turning off your porch or entry light and to stay at home if you are at all sick or self-isolating.

As a general rule, the centre advises skipping parties this year, trick-or-treating in small bubbles of six, and getting creative in ensuring a distance when handing out treats — think of using tongs.

Indoor gatherings, big or small, put people at higher risk of getting COVID-19, according to the centre. To that end, consider watching a ­Halloween movie or observing other ­traditions with your household or small social group or bubble rather than hosting a party.

Pandemic party rules

  • You should know everyone who attends, no plus ones.
  • Don’t pass around snacks, drinks, smokes, tokes or vapes.
  • Be more outside, than inside. Keep your space well-ventilated with windows open.
  • Avoid using props that can cause coughing, such as smoke machines.
  • Because hand sanitizer is flammable, be careful around open flames.

Trick-or-treating safely

  • Respect homes by staying away if the lights are out.
  • Keep to your local neighbourhood this year; avoid trick-or-treating in busy areas or indoors.
  • Trick-or-treat in a small social group of six people or fewer.
  • Leave space between you and other groups to reduce crowding on stairs and sidewalks.
  • Wash your hands before you go out, when you get home and before eating treats. (Keep hand sanitizer with you if eating treats on the go. You don’t need to clean every treat but you should wash your hands after handling treats. Do not touch your face.)

Handing out treats

  • Use tongs, a baking sheet or make a candy slide to give more space when handing out candy.
  • Hand out individual treats instead of offering from a shared bowl.
  • Only hand out sealed, pre-packaged treats.
  • Wear a non-medical mask that covers your nose and mouth when handing out treats.
  • Be more outside than inside. If you can, stand outside your door to hand out treats which also ensure kids won’t need to touch the door or doorbell. If you’re not able to remain outside, clean and disinfect doorbells and knobs, handrails, and any other high-touch surface often during the Halloween night.
  • If you are decorating, avoid props that can cause coughing, such as smoke machines.
  • Stick to treats — not tricks.

For more information visit bccdc.ca.

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