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All treats, no tricks: BCCDC gives Halloween celebration guidelines

Stick to the treats โ€“ not tricks this year, thanks to COVID-19. ๐ŸŽƒ๐Ÿฌ
Face masks are recommended for those taking part in trick-or-treating this Halloween in B.C. Photo: Getty Images

The annual tradition of kids donning costumes and venturing onto neighbours' doorsteps for candy handouts is going to have to go down a little differently this year thanks to COVID-19. 

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has released its official guidelines for Halloween celebrations to help British Columbians party and trick-or-treat safely in 2020.

"Celebrate less socially and trick-or-treat locally this Halloween!" the BCCDC urges. They advise kids and supervising adults trick-or-treat in small groups of no more than six, and that people skip hosting and attending parties this year. Additionally, they have some suggestions for creative ways to hand out treats.

Trick-or-treaters are urged to consider incorporating a non-medical mask or costume mask into their get-ups but reminded not to don both, in order to be able to breathe properly. Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer.

Keep it local and ditch taking the family to a different neighbourhood or city this year. Leave lots of room between your group and others - don't clump up in driveways or doorways. 

While some folks go all out with the decorations, things that can cause coughing, like smoke machines, are discouraged. Additionally, the BCCDC asks that there be treats and not tricks - being too close and/or causing someone to scream or shout or cough can create more opportunities to spread droplets by air, which is how COVID-19 is transmitted. 

B.C. revellers are urged to keep the fun outdoors, so no DIY indoor haunted houses at your place for the local kids to check out, and keep party guest counts at six or under (more of a Halloween salon, or gathering, if you will). 

For those still planning to hand out treats, consider using tongs, a cookie sheet or similar tray, or something fun like a "candy slide," (like using a long cardboard tube) or "candy zip-line" to distribute the individually-wrapped treats. Avoid creating situations where multiple hands will be digging in a bowl, and consider simply being outside so kids don't even have to ring the doorbell.

Because it's likely many people will opt out of candy handing-out this year, the BCCDC asks those abstaining to keep their porch lights off, and for trick-or-treaters to be mindful of not going up to doors of dark houses.

Here are the BCCDC Halloween guidelines in full:

Celebrate less socially and trick-or-treat locally this Halloween!

  • Skip Halloween parties this year

  • Trick or treating in small groups can be a safe and a fun activity

  • Get creative in making space when handing out treats

No matter how you celebrate Halloween this yearโ€ฆ

  1. Turn off your porch light and stay at home if you are sick or self-isolating.
  2. Try including a non-medical mask or face covering as part of your costume.
    • Costume masks should not be worn over non-medical masks or face coverings as that may make it difficult to breathe.
  3. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.

Skip Halloween parties this year

  1. Leave the parties behind.
    • Indoor gatherings, big or small, put people at higher risk of getting COVID-19.
    • Celebrate with your favourite Halloween movie or other traditions that you can do with your household or social group.
  2. If you host or attend a small party, keep it within your social group (Stick to six).   
    • You should know everyone who attends, no plus ones.   
    • Follow our guidelines for safer celebrations.   
    • Donโ€™t pass around snacks, drinks, smokes, tokes, and 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.   
    • Be careful with hand sanitizer and open flames - hand sanitizer is very flammable!

Trick-or-treating can be done safely by following these tips

  1. Respect homes by staying away if the lights are out.
  2. Keep to your local neighbourhood this year.
    • Avoid trick-or-treating in busy areas or indoors (in places like malls) since there may not be enough space to distance. Indoor spaces may require a non-medical mask or face covering.
  3. Trick-or-treat in a small social group, stick to six people.
    • Leave space between you and other groups to reduce crowding on stairs and sidewalks.
  4. 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 donโ€™t need to clean every treat. You should instead wash your hands after handling treats and not touch your face.

Get creative handing out treats

  1. Get creative!   
    • Use tongs, a baking sheet or make a candy slide to give more space when handing out candy.   
    • Plan to hand out individual treats instead of offering a shared bowl.   
    • Only hand out sealed, pre-packaged treats.
  2. Wear a non-medical mask that covers your nose and mouth when handing out treats.   
  3. Be more outside, than inside.   
    • If you can, stand outside your door to hand out treats. Then kids wonโ€™t need to touch the door or doorbell.   
    • If youโ€™re unable to sit outside to hand out treats, clean and disinfect doorbells and knobs, handrails, and any other high touch surface often during the evening
  4. If you are decorating, avoid props that can cause coughing, such as smoke machines.   
  5. Stick to the treats โ€“ not tricks.
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