New Brunswick

Municipalities look for guidance on trick-or-treating in a pandemic

Communities across New Brunswick are contemplating how to deal with trick-or-treating in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least one community bans door-to-door Halloween, others not so sure

Sadie Haines, her friend Aurora Maclean, and brother Ryan. The Haines children will not be going door-to-door for Halloween 2020, says mom Katie Haines. (Submitted by Katie Haines)

Trick–or–treating in a pandemic "just doesn't feel right," says Katie Haines. 

The Bloomfield mother of two has already decided that her children will not be going door–to–door this Halloween. 

"Trick–or–treating almost sounds crazy at this point," said Haines. 

She said it would be "completely opposite" to how everyone has been living for the past six months. 

Haines said the province should make it easier on parents and communities by banning door-to-door trick–or–treating in the entire province this year. 

Some municipalities are already considering whether it's prudent to allow trick-or-treating this year. 

Councillors in Woodstock have decided to ban door-to-door trick-or-treating for Halloween 2020. (Shutterstock)

Woodstock has already decided that it's not. 

At town council Tuesday night, officials "passed a motion to restrict" door-to-door trick–or–treating, said Mayor Arthur Slipp. 

He said the decision was based on a number of concerns expressed by residents. 

"It came as a result of some inquiries from some of our citizens in town about how they didn't feel comfortable with people coming to their door for Halloween and with the COVID restrictions, it was a bit of a concern that they had."

Saint John's mayor said he has been asked about Halloween a lot lately. Don Darling said he's not sure whether municipalities even have the power to ban trick–or–treating. 

This year Halloween falls on a Saturday, with a full moon, and an extra hour because it comes on the last day of daylight savings. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Darling said Saint John will follow the guidance of public health officials. 

"I actually would like to see the province, you know, make a recommendation from the chief medical health officer's office and then hopefully we can have some continuity between communities on what's going to happen."

He said there's too much confusion if municipalities choose to go in different directions. 

Darling said people seem to feel very strongly about it — both for and against. 

"There are not many in the middle," he said. 

Safety tips

Bruce Macfarlane, the communications director for the Department of Health, said officials are working on a list of recommendations for a safe Halloween. He said the advice will be released later this month and will be based on "the best available information and it will be tailored to which level of emergency is relevant at the time of Halloween." 

And what a Halloween it will be — a full moon, on a Saturday, with an extra hour thanks to it falling on the last day of daylight savings. 

Those are the treats. 

Some municipalities are waiting for direction from Public Health before determining the fate of Halloween 2020. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The trick, of course, is that Halloween 2020 is happening in a pandemic. 

Haines said there's just too much at stake — and too much uncertainty this year. 

"Going door–to–door to people's houses that we don't know? What if people are isolating? What if the porch lights are all shut down? What if we shouldn't be going to those doors? It just doesn't feel right this year."

Her children will still dress up, and both are planning Halloween events with friends and family. And of course, there will be treats. They just won't come from strangers, said Haines. 

Pandemic possibilities

Slipp said officials with Woodstock's recreation department are working with community services organizations to try to come up with alternatives to door-to-door trick–or–treating. One of the ideas being considered is a drive-through for younger children. 

He said his council chose to make a decision early, to leave lots of time for sorting out other ways to celebrate. 

Moncton 

The city of Moncton is waiting to hear what the province advises on Halloween before making any decisions, said Isabelle LeBlanc, director of corporate communications for the city. 

"We are working with Dieppe and Riverview to ensure that our plan (once determined) is consistent, as our communities are so closely linked. We are also looking at what other jurisdictions across the country are doing," said LeBlanc by email Thursday afternoon. 

Jean Bertin, a communications officer for the Executive Council Office of New Brunswick, said municipalities have the power to "set rules out in a bylaw surrounding Halloween," under Section 5 of the Local Governance Act. 

In the past, for example, some municipalities have set curfews on trick–or–treating using that section of the act, said Bertin. 

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