Toronto

'One clear public health message' needed on Halloween, GTHA mayors and chairs tell province

"One clear public health message" is needed from Ontario on how residents should handle Halloween this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal leaders in the Toronto and Hamilton area say.

Halloween guidelines for COVID-19 hotspots coming soon, provincial medical officer promises

GTHA mayors and chairs say they want the province to give area residents 'one clear public health message' on how to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus on Halloween. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

"One clear public health message" is needed from Ontario on how residents should handle Halloween this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal leaders in the Toronto and Hamilton area say.

In a news release on Tuesday, the mayors and chairs from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) asked for provincial guidance this week to help communities prepare for the day. The mayors and chairs represent 11 municipal governments.

"Looking ahead to Halloween, now less than three weeks away, the mayors and chairs will strongly advocate for one clear public health message, preferably coming from the province, by the end of this week," the municipal leaders said in the release.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said at a news briefing at Queen's Park on Tuesday that the provincial government will release guidelines this week.

"We know Halloween is coming soon, so we hope to have an answer for you in the next day or so because you want to do your planning and preparation accordingly," Williams told reporters.

Williams noted that the province released general guidelines earlier in the fall before it identified Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa as hotspots for COVID-19.

The province imposed tighter restrictions in these three areas for a period of 28 days starting Oct. 10. These regions have consistently reported the majority of new cases in recent weeks.

Specific guidelines will be released for Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, Williams said.

As for the general guidelines released earlier, Williams said the province had recommended the following measures:

  • No big parties or gatherings.
  • Decorating on lawns is allowed.
  • No lingering on lawns.
  • Halloween masks are not considered facial coverings.
  • "We want people being careful about how they handle tricks and treats."

Williams said the province will provide guidance on trick and treating in the COVID-19 hotspots shortly.

Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health, said in a statement on Tuesday: "Toronto Public Health is actively working on developing guidance on Halloween, which will be released to the public soon."

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