halloween ontario

Ontario doesn't want kids to yell or scream while trick-or-treating this Halloween

Spooky season is now upon us, but please don't sing about it — at least not in Ontario, not while out and about on Halloween (which has not been cancelled for 2021, contrary to what you may have heard and despite the fact that we're still surfing a fourth wave of COVID.)

The province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, gave Ontarians the green light on Thursday to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Halloween this year, but with safety precautions in place.

Indoor Thanksgiving dinners need to be capped at 25 people, for instance, and windows should be kept open (not a problem, judging by the balmy long weekend forecast.)

Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoors, according to health officials, and smaller is better, as "the fewer people who gather, the lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission."

Moore stressed on Thursday that virtual gatherings remain "the safest way to celebrate" both Thanksgiving and Halloween, "especially if people in the group are unvaccinated or if their vaccination status is unknown."

All of that said, those who really want to go trick-or-treating can do so — quietly.

Among the measures recommended in the province's guidelines for celebrating Halloween safely are "do not sing or shout for your treats" and "do not ask trick-or-treaters to sing or shout for their treats."

This is presumably to reduce the number of respiratory particles circulating, as the coronavirus is spread through airborne droplets.

And a standard Halloween mask isn't up to snuff in terms of PPE: officials recommend either wearing a proper mask under that plastic ghoul face, or building a face covering into your costume.

The guidelines don't mention anything about holding in one's screams if they're frightened — sometimes that can't be helped — but they do seem to emphasize keeping one's mouth shut and distancing from others on October 31.

Here are Ontario's full guidelines for celebrating Halloween in 2021:

If you trick-or-treat door-to-door:
  • stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • trick-or-treat outdoors as much as possible
  • be creative and build the face covering into your costume. Remember that a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering. A costume mask should not be worn over a non-medical mask or face covering because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.
  • do not crowd doorsteps – take turns one at a time
  • do not sing or shout for your treats
  • keep interactions brief with those giving out treats
  • use hand sanitizer often, especially before and after handling your face covering, after touching frequently touched surfaces, when you arrive home from trick-or-treating, and before and after handling or eating treats
  • there is no need to clean or disinfect pre-packaged treats
If trick-or-treating indoors:
  • maintain physical distancing as much as possible and wear a face covering, especially when physical distancing is a challenge.
  • do not participate in Halloween festivities if you have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • keep interactions with trick-or-treaters short and encourage them to move along after receiving their treat from you
  • consider wearing a face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • consider including the face covering as part of your costume if you are dressing up
  • give out only purchased and packaged treats
  • do not ask trick-or-treaters to sing or shout for their treats
  • clean your hands often throughout the evening using soap and water or with hand sanitizer.

All current public health and safety measures under Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen remain in place and Ontario's Ministry of Health maintains that getting vaccinated is "the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses like COVID-19."

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