Top tips to have a safe Halloween despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Wondering how to handle Halloween this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are some ideas on how to trick-or-treat, give out candy or celebrate the holiday in a different way — without the fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus.

The City of Calgary said Tuesday that neither Halloween nor Thanksgiving are “cancelled” this year because of the pandemic but, like the province the previous week, it shared suggestions for how people could celebrate safely.

“Kids should go out trick-or-treating with other kids in their bubble and refrain from ringing the bell,” Tom Sampson, chief of Calgary Emergency Management, said in a release issued Tuesday.

“Make sure they wash their hands when they get home. For extra protection, have kids wear a real mask instead of a costume mask; or under their mask if it doesn’t impact their ability to breathe.”

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said last week that Halloween might be safer than other holidays — if proper precautions are taken — since trick-or-treating happens outside and often within one’s own family group.

“If you want to have trick-or-treaters, leave your lights on so your neighbours know you are comfortable having kids come to your door for candy,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in Tuesday’s release from the city.

“Halloween is a great tradition, but some people will want to do things differently this year and that’s OK, too. Whatever you decide to do, consider finding decorations, candy and costumes at local shops. We need to respect each other’s choices and, above all else, we need to be kind.”

Below, you’ll find a roundup of tips and ideas for Halloween from the province, the city and creative members of the public.

Tips for trick-or-treaters

  • Don’t go trick-or-treating if you feel under the weather, even if symptoms are minor.
  • Minimize contact with others by hunting for candy with your family or cohort and stay within your community.
  • Maintain a minimum distance of two metres from people who aren’t in your family or cohort.
  • Choose costumes that let you wear a non-medical mask underneath.
  • Instead of ringing a doorbell, yell the classic line “trick or treat” to let the house know you’re there.
  • Before you dig into your stash, wash your hands and disinfect candy packages.
  • Consider quarantining the candy for a couple of days to make sure it’s safer to handle. (Parents, you might want to give your kids some candy bought before the big night.)

Tips for the candy givers

  • Don’t hand out candy if you aren’t feeling well or are isolating due to travel or other reasons.
  • Wear a non-medical mask.
  • Maintain a minimum safe distance of two metres from others.
  • If weather permits, the province suggests hand out treats outside from your driveway or front lawn.
  • Set up a table so you’re not getting too close to trick-or-treaters.
  • Hand out candy at a distance with tongs.
  • Don’t place a candy bowl outside. Instead, make packaged candy bags and space them out on a table or blanket.
  • Get creative and have fun with no-touch delivery methods. Some people are constructing candy “slides” or “chutes” — like this Ohio man whose social post went viral when he attached a two-metre long tube to the handrail of his front steps to drop candy at a distance (while wearing a mask and gloves):
  • Others have creating their own variants of candy slides, pointing out they can become a spooky accessories:

  • Creative no-touch suggestions have also included candy “catapults” or hanging individually wrapped treats on trees in your yard.
  • Others are adding more precautions at the doorway. One Calgary couple, Mark Jean and his wife, Kim, for example, are selling “COVID Safe Halloween kits” that use a shrink wrap plastic film as a barrier for doorways and also include driveway arrows, physical distancing stickers and decorations for the plastic film doorway to prevent accidental contact. (In an interview with The Calgary Eyeopener in late September, the couple said they had reached out to Alberta Health Services hoping to get its stamp of approval for the concept.)
  • Consider hosting a candy scavenger hunt in your backyard with your cohort.
  • Or try “trunk-or-treating.” Grab some friends you trust, set up cars in an outdoor parking lot and have the kids get their candy that way.
  • The province has created posters available through its website to let trick-or-treaters know if your house is participating.

Tips for Halloween gatherings

Hinshaw has urged people to avoid group get-togethers or Halloween parties this year because of the pandemic, asking that people instead trick-or-treat within their own cohorts or families. 

If you are having a Halloween gathering within those smaller groups, first and foremost, check the latest guidelines from the province on gatherings.

The province also suggests:

  • Don’t attend or throw a gathering if you’re feeling ill or have minor symptoms.
  • If weather permits, host your party outside and only invite people you know well.
  • Think of fun and creative activities that maintain physical distance and don’t include sharing items.
  • If your party is inside, reduce the number of invites, provide sanitizer and choose a location that allows physical distancing.
  • Wash and sanitize your hands often and don’t share food, drinks, cigarettes, vapes and cannabis.

Other ways to celebrate

  • Watch a scary movie. There are plenty of Halloween movies that will get you right in the spirit. If the weather permits, set it up in your backyard.
  • Plan a special evening looking at the full moon. The last time there was one on Oct. 31 was 2001.
  • Set up a costume parade.
  • Use Zoom to have a virtual party with friends.
  • Attend one of several drive-in events around Calgary.
  • Save the pumpkin carving for Halloween night so you have another activity to look forward to.
  • Enjoy some other fall activities that day and evening, like an outdoor corn maze or apple picking. 

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