Remember COVID safety on All Hallows eve

According to the online “Canadian Encyclopedia” Halloween is observed annually on the night of Oct. 31.

It’s believed to have originated primarily as a Celtic celebration marking the division of the light and dark halves of the year, when the boundary between the living and the dead was believed to be at its thinnest.

Halloween customs, such as wearing disguises to ward off ghosts and offering food to appease malevolent spirits, were brought to Canada in the mid-to-late 1800s by Irish and Scottish immigrants. North America’s first recorded instance of dressing in disguise on Halloween was in Vancouver, BC, in 1898, while the first recorded use of the term trick or treat was in Lethbridge, AB, in 1927.

Halloween became increasingly popular with adults beginning in the 1990s and by 2014 was estimated to be a $1-billion industry in Canada, making it the second most commercially successful holiday behind Christmas. Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued a statement detailing public health advice for Halloween this year stating it is critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween.

To have a safe and happy Halloween, Dr. Williams said that Ontarians should follow some simple steps such as: avoid gatherings with people outside of your household; stay home if you are feeling ill, even if you have mild symptoms, or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

For those of us who live outside the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions and are going to go out to trick or treat or who plan to hand out candy, Dr. Williams made these suggestions: 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 for a face covering and should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe; do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting.

Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects; whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer; and do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or other similar tools to hand out treats. So, if you’re going to hand out candy to trick or treaters this year, consider doing so in a physically distant manner.

I’ve seen posts online of people putting a bucket at the end of a hockey stick and putting the candy for each costumed visitor in there. One post showed an eavestrough attached to a stair railing so that the trick or treater could stay at the bottom and receive their candy down the chute.

Whatever you do, stay safe out there.

-Debbie MacDonald Moynes