Manitoba

Tongs for Halloween treats, keep your Thanksgiving dinners small, province advises

Families who want to host Thanksgiving gatherings should limit celebrations to members of their own household, while Halloween activities are OK to go ahead with some precautions, Manitoba health officials have advised.

The Manitoba government released COVID-19 safety guidelines for fall holidays

The Manitoba government advises people to check the local pandemic response system levels in their area before heading out to trick-or-treat on Halloween. (John Robertson/CBC)

Families who want to host Thanksgiving gatherings should limit celebrations to members of their own household, while Halloween activities are OK to go ahead with some precautions, Manitoba health officials have advised.

The provincial government released new COVID-19 safety guidelines for fall holidays on Friday.

In general, families are encouraged to reduce the number of close contacts they have with people outside their households, and to avoid enclosed or crowded spaces. The province also advised people to minimize workplace and other social gatherings outside of the household.

In Winnipeg and surrounding areas — which are in the orange, or "restricted" level on the province's pandemic response system — gatherings should be limited to household members plus 10 people.

During gatherings, practise physical distancing with anyone from outside the household, the province says. At all times, fundamental precautions should be followed, such as staying home when sick, practising good hygiene, wearing a mask when physical distance can't be maintained, and avoiding traditional greetings like hugging, kissing, or shaking hands. 

Whenever possible, families should consider holding outdoor or virtual gatherings instead of gathering indoors. Anyone at high risk from COVID-19 should consider not attending. 

Health officials ask anyone hosting a gathering to keep a list of attendees for up to 21 days, to help if any contact tracing is necessary.

If hosting a Thanksgiving dinner or other food-based gathering, common surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. Avoid sharing food or utensils. Designate one person to serve food to everyone, rather than passing food around, or order individual portions from a restaurant or caterer. 

Make masks part of Halloween costumes

The province gave the green light for trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities, as long as people follow the same fundamentals, including self-screening for symptoms of COVID-19. 

People should pay attention to the local pandemic response system levels in their area, and consider alternatives to trick-or-treating if necessary, such as costume parades, haunted houses, and corn mazes, provided physical distance is maintained.

The province advises people use tools such as tongs instead of their hands to give out candy, or use individual bags. The guidelines recommend against self-serve options like common candy bowls, and say people should only give out wrapped, store-bought treats. 

Those handing out candy should wear non-medical masks.

For trick-or-treaters, masks can also be incorporated into costumes, but the province advises against putting another mask over a face mask.

The province also encourages people to trick-or-treat only with others from their own household. 

Trick-or-treating at indoor spaces, such as malls, is also allowed, as long as physical distancing is maintained. 

To encourage distancing, the province advises people to decorate their houses in ways that can be enjoyed from afar.

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