British Columbia

Stay outside, give out candy with tongs, among tips from health officials for a pandemic Halloween

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has issued a lengthy list of dos and don'ts when it comes to having a safe Halloween this year amid a pandemic.

Don't have an indoor party, do remember hand sanitizer, says the BCCDC

Kids go house to house while trick-or-treating in Vancouver in 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has issued a lengthy list of dos and don'ts when it comes to having a safe Halloween this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said nearly a month ago that Halloween need not be cancelled this year in B.C. and that officials would guide people on how to approach the day and night, which can see thousands of people out on city streets, knocking on doors for candy and setting off fireworks at private parties.

The BCCDC advises skipping indoor parties, trick or treating in small groups and planning how to hand out treats in a way that will respect physical distancing rules.

"Stick to the treats — not tricks," it said as part of its list of 14 general best practices. "Indoor gatherings, big or small, put people at higher risk of getting COVID-19."

The centre suggests people enjoy Halloween outside as much as possible, for costumes to include a non-medical mask or face covering and have hand sanitizer at the ready. But be careful around candles and other open flames because sanitizer is flammable.

Families go house to house while trick or treating last year in Metro Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

How to trick-or-treat

The BCCDC recommendations for trick or treating include staying in local neighbourhoods, avoiding busy or indoor areas and staying in small groups

"Leave space between you and other groups to reduce crowding on stairs and sidewalks," it said.

It advises people to wash their hands before going out and before eating treats. It says you can use hand sanitizer if you want to eat treats while on the go.

The centre says it's not necessary to clean treats.

"You should instead wash your hands after handling treats and not touch your face," it said.

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Handing out candy

When it comes to handing out candy the centre says homeowners should wear a mask and use tongs, a baking sheet or even make a candy slide to create more space between people.

It says to go outside to hand out individual treats instead of offering a shared bowl and to only hand out sealed, pre-packaged treats.

Every costume should include a face mask of some sort, say health officials. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"If you're unable to sit outside to hand out treats, clean and disinfect doorbells and knobs, handrails, and any other high touch surface often during the evening," say the guidelines.

Other guidelines include not sharing drinks, snacks or smoking materials such as cigarettes or vapes.

For people looking to take a year off from Halloween or who are not well enough to safely participate, the BCCDC says to turn off exterior lights on homes, such as porch lights, so people know not to approach.

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