Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, issued a statement on Monday indicating that “traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended” in cities in modified Stage 2 restrictions - Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region.
In the statement, Dr. Williams states this is due to the “high transmission” of COVID-19 in these areas. At a press conference, the chief medical officer of health reiterated that it’s the level of community transmission that requires “extra caution” in these regions.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health recommends “alternative” ways to celebrate Halloween in these regions, which include:
Encouraging kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties
Organizing a Halloween candy hunt with people living in their own household
Having a movie night or sharing scary stories
Decorating front lawns
“It is recommended that you also check with your local municipality or public health unit for any additional advice or restrictions that may be in place,” the statement reads. “It is also critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween.”
Traditional trick-or-treating not recommended in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region
At a press conference on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he is not “cancelling” Halloween in these areas but “just don’t go trick-or-treating.”
“I hate doing this, Halloween is important to the kids,” Ford said. “I’m just following the health advice...Toronto doesn’t want it, Peel doesn’t it, York doesn’t want it, Ottawa doesn’t want it.”
“If we did let people go out and all of a sudden numbers spiked up, guess what, you’d be blaming this guy saying ‘why would you ever let those kids go out door-to-door and their were seniors answering the doors, have you lost your mind.’”
The premier indicated the medical advice he’s received from the provincial health team is that there are particular concerns about kids putting their hands in a basket of candy after touching their face, mouth and nose.
“They around in groups of eight or nine, sometimes smaller, every time they finish they get together in a huddle, they share stuff...back and forth,” Dr. Williams said. “There’s a lot of chatter and close contact, and sometimes with adults too at the same time.”
In order to have a “safe and happy Halloween” in Ontario, Dr. Williams stressed that Ontarios need to avoid gathering with people outside of their household, stay home if feeling at all ill.
For people living outside of the modified Stage 2 regions, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health outlined a number of rules to follow for trick-or-treating.
Only go out with members of your household
Only trick or treat outside
Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering and a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering but also should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe
Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting
Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects
Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer
Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or similar tools to hand out treats
The premier said Ontarians all need to work together now, including adapting Halloween celebrations, in order to protect the holiday season.