You don't need to quarantine candy and more tips for a safe Halloween

Local public health officials, school boards and the province have issued guidelines for keeping Halloween trick or treating safe this year.

'You want to avoid children getting candy out of a common bowl,' Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang says

Public health officials and the province have said trick or treating can go ahead in Waterloo region so long as people take precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Halloween is a week away and some people may still be considering whether to allow children to go trick or treating because of safety concerns surrounding COVID-19.

In Waterloo region, acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang says trick or treating can go ahead if people feel safe to do it and they follow public health guidelines, such as wearing a mask over their nose and mouth, keeping a physical distance of two metres from people outside their household, using hand sanitizer along the way and washing their hands when they get home.

Wang says people handing out candy need to also wear a mask, wash their hands often and try to keep their distance.

"Whatever helps to ensure distancing and to ensure that candy isn't touched by multiple people," Wang said earlier this week during a media briefing.

She says she's seen some rather ingenious methods popping up on social media for handing out candy, including candy chutes, using a hockey stick to "hand" children candy or leaving out individually wrapped bags. One caller to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo suggested Halloween treat trees, where candy could be hung from the trees for children to grab.

Wang says there's no need to quarantine candy, but that "you want to avoid children getting candy out of a common bowl."

No costumes at public schools

At public schools in Waterloo region, students are being asked not to wear costumes this year or bring treats to share with their class.

"Costumes and shared food, customs often associated with Halloween, are incompatible with the guidance we have provided to our schools and received from public health," the Waterloo Region District School Board says on its website.

"WRDSB students, families and community members who wish to, are invited to celebrate Halloween outside of school."

Some other schools in the region may allow Halloween costumes, but are advising parents that any extra "pieces" to costumes such as headbands, masks or gloves should be left at home.

Students can also wear black and orange to mark the day.

No gatherings, follow guidelines, province says

The province has issued guidelines for Halloween, which includes discouraging gatherings with people outside a household and to stay home if a person is feeling ill, even with mild symptoms.

The province is discouraging trick or treating in high risk areas of the province including Toronto, Peel region, York region and Ottawa, but says it can go ahead in other parts of the province so long as precautions are taken.

But, the province notes not everyone wants to take part in Halloween this year, even if it's allowed in their area.

There are posters that people can download and print off the province's website that say either "welcome trick or treaters" or "sorry, see you next year."

The province also offered these suggestions for people going to go out to trick-or-treat:

  • 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 — a costume mask is not a substitute and should not be worn over a face covering because it may make it difficult to breathe.
  • Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if you are waiting.
  • Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects, such as railings and doorbells.
  • Whether you are collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer.