ontario trick or treat 2020

Some people plan on trick-or-treating in Toronto despite public health advice

Say what you want you about Ontario's wishy-washy Thanksgiving public health recommendations, but officials from all three levels of government have been dead clear over the past week about what they want us to do this Halloween — or rather, what they don't want us to do.

"Given the high transmission of COVID-19 in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York Region, traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended," said the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, in a statement on Monday.

Parties are similarly strongly urged against, and on an official, legal basis, social gatherings of more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors are punishable by fines of up to $10,000 for hosts and $800 for attendees.

Toronto residents are, in fact, encouraged to avoid non-essential trips outside the home entirely as new cases of COVID-19 surge.

And yet, the risk of contracting and spreading a deadly virus still seems worth it to some people who simply can't stand the thought of disappointing their kids... or of being told what to do.

"I know this is a controversial topic and we are all trying to figure it out," wrote a resident of Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood in a community Facebook group this week.

"Just sharing that our street is hoping to host trick or treating to our street's residents only. I think this might be a good compromise given public health's recommendation."

The resident wrote that, while she was (justifiably) weary to post her name for fear of backlash, she felt the idea would allow streets to limit crowds "but also allow the kids to have fun."

"I really do think this a reasonable proposal parents in Leslieville should consider," she wrote, to which more than 100 replied with varying degrees of "no," "nope," "heck nope," and "yes, we're totally down."

Some people in the comment thread noted that their neighbourhoods are hosting costume parades for local youngsters, keeping trick-or-treating to designated hours, or dispensing candy via tubes or buckets near the street.

"Good. Halloween should happen, not everyone agrees with the recommendations," replied one person to the original poster's suggestion.

"Perhaps (on Halloween) those planning on handing out treats can post their street name so those planning on going out will know where to go, instead of hitting streets that are opting out," wrote another. "Just a thought."

Others were quick to chastise the move, noting that a relatively small sacrifice could save many lives.

"So to recap, folks in this group are posting about going against the public health advisories for the area. This is why we are setting a record for cases," wrote one member.

"I love Halloween and have a new smoke machine, lights, and a few other things, however I'm willing to put it all away this year not for my good, but that of others."

"I carry lingering guilt from years ago when my kid infected the neighbourhood with chicken pox while trick-or-treating," warned another.

"Classic case... she was seemingly fine on Oct 31 and woke up on November 1st with the symptoms. We had unknowingly distributed chicken pox to the neighbours (Chick or Treat?!?). I know one person who got it from her for sure... there may have been many more."

While police won't be out and about it Toronto enforcing trick-or-treating rules (which, again, aren't rules, but public health recommendations), those who defy the advice of experts and trot their kids around for free candy can likely expect some side-eye from neighbours.

After all, our behaviour this Halloween will directly influence what the province decides to do in terms of restrictions over the holidays.

"My friends, we need to work together this Halloween to protect Christmas and the holiday season," said Premier Doug Ford during a press conference on Monday.

"The steps we take now will determine what the holiday season looks like this year."

Lead photo by

Jeff Turner

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