Robert: Government releases safety guidelines for Halloween
With the threat of COVID-19 ever looming over us, many were concerned that Halloween and Trick-or-Treating would be affected, or even cancelled, as a result. This past Wednesday, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province, assured the public that celebrating Halloween can be done safely and will not be affected by the current pandemic. (Albeit as long as there is no significant threat to public health.)
When it comes to your little ghouls and goblins collecting candy this October 31st, the provincial government asks you consider the following to ensure everyone has a happy Halloween:
Handing out Treats
- If you are feeling ill or are self-isolating for any reason, ask someone else to hand out treats, or place a sign on your door to ask parents and children to skip your residence, such as “Have a Happy and Safe Halloween: No Visitors Please.”
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before handing out treats.
- Consider wearing a non-medical mask when handing out treats.
- Consider wrapping treats in individual bags prior to Halloween night. This would help to avoid concerns about viruses on the packages inside the bag.
- Take responsibility for dropping treats directly into children’s bags to keep children from handling packages in a common bowl or container.
- Consider frequent disinfection of common touch areas (hand rails, doorbells, door knobs, etc.)
- If you are feeling ill or are self-isolating for any reason, do not participate in trick-or-treat activities.
- Children should wash their hands before they leave their home, when they arrive home, and prior to eating any treats.
- Be respectful of households that are not handing out treats this year, and skip any residence that has a sign on the door.
- Limit your close personal contacts by trick-or-treating with people from your bubble.
- Maintain physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and members of other bubbles. Take turns visiting residences to avoid mixing with other bubbles.
- Avoid entering indoor porch areas when getting treats.
- Parents or guardians should consider accompanying children for safety reasons as well as to help ensure physical distancing is observed.
- Follow the usual safety measures (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/home-safety/halloween-safety.html) when going trick-or-treating, such as wearing reflective materials, watching for traffic and using crosswalks.
- A non-medical mask is not required when trick-or-treating outdoors, but may be required when visiting residents of apartment buildings or other indoor spaces.
- The risk of virus transmission on packaging is low, as viruses do not survive on these surfaces for more than a few hours. However, parents or guardians may wish to have a few treats at home for their own children, and to consider setting aside any collected treats, that are not wrapped in individual bags, for a few hours.
Distanced Gatherings and Events
- Consider keeping social gatherings within your usual bubble of family and friends.
- Keep gatherings small and follow the guidelines for distanced gatherings (https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/guidance-for-gatherings/).
- Avoid activities that pose a high risk for transmission (e.g. bobbing for apples, decorating cookies).
- “Trunk-or-treating” events are permitted provided physical distancing is maintained and shared contact items are minimized or eliminated. Food and drink service or other activities are not recommended to discourage gathering.
- Businesses and organizations are permitted to offer Haunted Houses/Ghost Tours/Corn Mazes/Pumpkin Patches providing the following guidelines are followed:
- organizers, staff, or attending public must stay home if unwell;
- manage line-ups carefully to ensure physical distancing;
- plan contingencies for how adverse weather may affect planned activities;
- minimize time indoors;
- consider online bookings with timed arrivals;
- consider contactless payment;
- recommend all attendees (e.g. staff, volunteers, public, etc.) wear a non-medical mask (non-medical masks are required in indoor spaces);
- follow store/event policy;
- maintain 2 metre distance from persons who are not in your household group;
- employees, for example in haunted houses, must maintain physical distancing from guests;
- provide enough time and space between tour groups to maintain physical distancing;
- encourage frequent hand hygiene;
- clean and disinfect common touch surfaces frequently;
- any food or beverage services or other activities within the event venue must follow the applicable guidelines.