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Precautions urged, but Halloween not cancelled

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Halloween is not cancelled this year, but some simple precautions are recommended by the province to make it as safe as possible.

The province is promoting the celebration of the spookiest time of year without the fear of spreading COVID-19. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, stated that Halloween may actually be safer in many ways to celebrate than any other holiday.

“I have no plans to suggest that Albertans cancel Halloween this year. My own children would never forgive me,” Hinshaw said.

Unlike Thanksgiving, most Halloween activities take place outdoors and largely within one family. The province has created posters that can be printed and put in windows or on doors, to let trick-or-treaters know which houses are handing out candy this year.

Hinshaw asked Albertans to avoid hosting group get-togethers or Halloween parties, and instead trick or treating should be done within a cohort, staying within the community, and avoiding contact with common touch-points like doorbells or hand railings. Bring hand sanitizer and knock on doors instead of using doorbells.

“Dressing up and trick or treating is the best part of Halloween for many children, and this can be done safely by choosing costumes that allow children to wear a non-medical mask,” Hinshaw said.

She urged the public to continue trying to minimize contact with others and maintaining two-metre physical distancing whenever possible. 

Wear a mask when handing out candy, and consider handing out treats outside on the driveway or front lawn.

“Try to get creative and have fun with ways to minimize the risk of exposure that comes when giving out candy, like the candy slide I mentioned earlier this week, and please use prepackaged candy, not homemade treats,” Hinshaw said.

A candy slide could be built along front steps or railings, which would allow treats to be dropped at the top of the slide straight into kids’ bags at the bottom. This allows the public to have some fun with social distancing and, non-touch delivery methods, and other suggestions included a candy catapult.

The province suggested using tongs to hand out pre-packaged candy to avoid handling treats, setting up a table or desk to help enforce distancing, making candy bags and spacing them out on a table or blanket, and don’t leave out self-serve bowls of bulk candy.

When it comes to Halloween parties, the recommendation is to spend time with people within a cohort. Games and activities should avoid shared items and allow people to stay two metres apart. Drinks, food, cigarettes, vapes, or cannabis should not be shared.

If possible, parties should be hosted outdoors.

Most importantly, the province advised those who feel even slightly sick not to go trick-or-treating, not to hand out candy, or attend any Halloween activities.

Hinshaw stated that the best way to ensure a safe Thanksgiving, Halloween, and school year is to limit community transmission.

“Particularly with the rising numbers we have seen over the past few days, I want to reiterate my strong recommendation for safe Thanksgiving events this weekend,” she said on Oct. 5.

She urged the public to keep Thanksgiving gatherings limited only to one household and cohort members, no more. 

Gatherings should be as small as possible, eating outdoors if possible, and not sharing serving utensils or dishes.

“If you are even slightly sick, don’t go to a Thanksgiving event and don’t host one at your home. The greatest tragedy would be to have Thanksgiving dinner turn into an opportunity for COVID to spread to our loved ones, potentially with severe consequences,” she said.

As of Oct. 6, Alberta had 1,900 active cases of COVID-19 with 61 hospitalizations and 13 in the intensive care unit. Alberta has had 281 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, since it arrived in the province.

The Town of Hinton currently has zero cases of COVID-19, while Yellowhead County has one confirmed active case.

For more tips on how to stay safe during Halloween, go to alberta.ca/halloween-during-covid19.aspx