Nova Scotia

COVID-19 could turn Halloween into a pumpkin in Nova Scotia

The candy has arrived, the costumes are in stores, but that's no guarantee there will be a customary Halloween next month. One Halifax couple has already cancelled their annual attraction.

'How do you protect all those kids running around?'

The province has made no decisions around Halloween celebrations this year. (Shutterstock)

As children prepare to go back to school and stores fill with Halloween candy and costumes, one question haunts the young and young-at-heart.

Will Nova Scotia have a traditional Halloween this year? 

Or has COVID-19, the virus that has sucked the fun out of almost every aspect of 2020, put a stake in its heart?

The answer from Public Health? Wait and see.

"The impacts of COVID-19 continue to evolve in Nova Scotia and so we are unable to predict what will be recommended months from now," a spokesperson for Public Health said in an email.

"Public Health are watching the epidemiology to determine what Halloween celebrations will look like and will have more to say on the topic as we get closer to the date."

Halloween is still almost two months away. But that is little preparation time for diehard Halloween fans.

It takes months of work every year for Rafuse and his husband to get their home ready for Halloween. (Jacob Rafuse/CBC)

For Jacob Rafuse and his husband, Steven MacLeod, the uncertainty created by the pandemic is too much. They've already cancelled plans to decorate their home in Spryfield, N.S., for this year.

By September, they are usually three months into their Halloween preparations.  

"We start around June working on any kind of new props we want to design and build for this year's event," said Rafuse. "So we start in June and continue to go until Halloween."

Once the construction is complete, it takes them three full days to decorate their home and yard, turning it into a Halloween attraction that draws people from the Annapolis Valley, the South Shore and across Halifax.  

The couple's holograms, animatronic beasts and giant monsters bring in big crowds. 

It has meant hundreds of hours of work every year for the last 10 years.

These were some of the creatures that Jacob Rafuse and his husband, Steven MacLeod, built for their driveway last year. (Jacob Rafuse/Facebook)

In 2019, they had 750 people visit their home on Halloween. But that number will be zero this year.

"We're not going to actually do Halloween this year," said Rafuse. "How do you protect all those kids running around without masks and in different houses? It's a situation where it becomes very difficult to make sure it's done safely.  

"I'm pretty confident … Halloween is going to be cancelled or drastically scaled back somehow for this year."  

All of these figures were crafted using wire and spray foam. (Jacob Rafuse/Facebook)

Rafuse and his husband also use their Halloween haunted house to round up donations for charity. This year they're asking people to give to the Manna for Health special needs food program, even though there's no haunted house. 

Rafuse is disappointed about having to cancel, but said Halloween fans like himself who are already preparing for a party need to slow down. 

"How are you going to protect everybody coming to your home?" he said.

He said he and his husband are trying to stay positive and are looking at this Halloween as a break from the hard labour to get ready for Oct. 31. 

He hopes next year they'll be able to bring back their haunted house, making it even bigger and better than ever.

CBC News reached out to the IWK Health Centre to speak to a medical professional about possible ways to safely proceed with Halloween despite the virus. A spokesperson said no one was comfortable responding, but they might be in a better position to talk closer to Halloween.   


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