Something scarier than ghosts and ghouls is lurking in our communities this Halloween. It’s COVID-19.
Despite the worldwide health pandemic, it will be business as usual this October – or as the case may be, trick or treat as usual.
Trick-or-treaters in Stellarton have a Halloween curfew. Following advice from the town’s police commission, council has set 8 p.m. as the cut-off point for door-to-door treat gathering. Younger children generally begin their evening before it gets dark so the curfew time provides plenty of time for Halloween fun. In these days of COVID-19 scare, councillors noted the option to pass out treats is left to the discretion of individual households. Those residents do not wish to pass out treats this year due to concerns about COVID-19 should keep their outside lights off as a signal to potential trick-or-treaters.
In the towns of New Glasgow, Trenton, Westville and Pictou there are no restrictions. All of the towns are following Public Health guidelines and Dan Troke, CAO in Pictou, said he has heard from some residents who plan on putting all of their treats on a front step or a designated area so trick or treaters can help themselves to avoid contact by knocking on doors.
The Town of New Glasgow has partnered with Treat Accessibly to help ensure a more inclusive Halloween for trick or treaters of different abilities. A free sign and guide on setting up safe, accessible Halloween can be picked up at New Glasgow Town Hall (111 Provost Street) until Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Additional information can be found here: https://bit.ly/3otpWVg. According to a post made on the town’s Facebook page by Treat Accesibly, the Town of New Glasgow is the first town in Canada to “embrace Treat Accesibly as a community. AMAZING!”
In Riverton, Halloween will be celebrated safely drive-thru style at the Riverton Hall, 5-7 p.m. or until the treats are gone. Anyone wishing to donate treats may call Kara at 902-301-0339.
Halloween on the Mountain is being held at Blue Mountain Fire Hall, Thorburn, 4-7 p.m. This is a free children’s Halloween event. All children and families welcome. Any store-bought child-friendly treat donations will be appreciated. Contact Kory Bell at (902) 922-3581 or (902) 759-8101 to arrange pickup of donations.
And don’t forget the Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat taking place Saturday from 6 to 7:30P p.m. at First United Baptist Church in New Glasgow.
New Glasgow Regional Police Const. Ken MacDonald says, “Halloween will be a little different this year because of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been passed down by the Nova Scotia government.”
This year, he notes, there is a little more emphasis on health and safety at Halloween. “It’s still very important for trick or treaters to wear reflective clothing, it’s still very important to watch out for traffic, it’s still very important to walk with a buddy, not to go in people’s houses, and for younger children to be accompanied by a responsible adult. Those tips still apply but this year there is an added layer of precautions because of COVID-19.”
For more information, MacDonald encourages people to visit New Glasgow Regional Police on Facebook to find safety tips and posters or go to https://novascotia.ca/protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus/halloween/?fbclid=IwAR24sdrq-F5yCkHqNtMGRUqQSE5qFOgxgl5c2M8QALC2nS35bxDzCs66Yfg.
In lieu of trick or treating at the mall this year, Highland Square has partnered with the Highland Drive In for a Halloween feature – two nights of Halloween movies and fun. Prepackaged Highland Square treat bags to be handed out between 4 and 6:30 p.m. each night of Friday and Saturday. The 6:30 p.m. movie is Hotel Transylvania and the second is Goosebumps. Book online at: https://www.highlanddrivein.com/ to guarantee a spot. Movie-goers are encouraged to wear a costume and enter the costume contest for a chance to win a Highland Square gift certificate and Highland Drive In swag. See COVID-19 rules: https://www.highlanddrivein.com/covid-19-rules
Guidance for trick or treating and Halloween gatherings:
The provincial government is reminding trick or treaters of current public health guidelines and providing specific advice around Halloween.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health said in a press release: “I urge Nova Scotians to make informed decisions before choosing to attend or host Halloween parties or events. We have been fortunate to have few or no new cases recently, but as we have seen with our neighbouring provinces, COVID-19 can quickly find its way back into our communities. We must continue to follow all public health measures.”
Tips for Halloween celebrations:
— adhere to the gathering limits and celebrate with family and friends from your consistent group of 10. People can continue to gather in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing
— if attending a party or event at a home, the gathering limit is 10 people
— if attending a community event, 50 people with physical distancing is the maximum both indoors and outdoors. A physical distance of two metres/six feet must always be maintained from people outside of your close social group of 10
— if attending an event held by a recognized business, 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity up to 200 people maximum is permitted indoors, or 250 outdoors
— requirements for wearing masks in indoor public places need to be followed
— don’t replace your non-medical mask with a Halloween costume mask. Most Halloween masks that cover the whole face have holes for breathing. While this type of mask is fine to wear outdoors or in your home, it is not a non-medical mask that fits snugly and protects others
— practise good hand washing, cough/sneeze etiquette and regular cleaning of common surfaces
— only serve food and drinks if physical distancing and good hand hygiene practices are being followed. If you do choose to offer food, it should be either serve yourself from pre-served single servings, or a single person designated to serve
— do not go trick-or-treating if you are feeling unwell or are self-isolating
— only trick-or-treat with people you live with, or friends from your close social group, and no more than 10 people
— if you see other kids getting treats from a house or pass another group on the street, stay six feet away and wait until they leave before proceeding
— if a house does not have any lights on, Halloween decorations up or has a sign saying they are not participating, skip the house and go on to the next house
— try to trick-or-treat in outdoor spaces. If that is not possible and you need to trick-or-treat indoors, wear a non-medical mask and adhere to the gathering limits
— keep conversations short. Do not sing or shout in exchange for Halloween candy
— try not to ring doorbells; instead gently knock on the door
— do not take treats in situations where everyone has to reach into a single container
— bring hand sanitizer with you and clean your hands often, especially if you are putting on and taking off a mask or face covering and touching high-touch surfaces
— wash your hands as soon as you get home
— wash your hands before and after handling and eating your treats. There is no need to clean, disinfect or quarantine treats
Advice for households giving out treats:
— do not participate in any Halloween activities, including handing out store bought pre-packaged treats if you are feeling unwell or self-isolating
— if you are not participating in trick-or-treating this year, turn off your lights, take down decorations and put up a sign saying you are not participating
— if possible, sit on your porch, driveway, front yard or at your front door welcoming trick-or-treaters
— if you are unable to sit outside then regularly clean and disinfect doorbells, handrails, door handles
— wash your hands often throughout the evening with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
— try to have only one person from your household give out treats
— do not have many hands reaching into the same container. Use tongs or other utensils to hand out treats or place individual amounts on a table
— wear a non-medical mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained
— do not ask trick-or-treaters to sing or shout for their treats