(Photo by BCCDC)

The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has finally released official guidelines on how to have a safe and spooky Halloween 2020.

Last month, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry assured British Columbia that all is not lost when it comes to Halloween celebrations this year.

In doing so, she unleashed weeks of questioning on how people can safely partake in the traditional October activities in the middle of a global pandemic, and promised that guidance is on the way.

Now, the BCCDC has come out with those guidelines and, in short, while parties must be forgone this year, they’ve given a green light to trick or treating.

General guidance

As with any event, those who are sick or self-isolating are asked to skip the festivities and stay home this Halloween.

The health authority also advises anyone dressing up to try and include a non-medical face mask as part of their costume, but be warned: wearing a costume mask on top of a non-medical face mask could make it difficult to breathe and thus pose a safety risk.

Those who do go out should wash or sanitize their hands frequently.

Parties and gatherings

The biggest, most obvious restriction this year is that people are asked to skip throwing or attending Halloween parties, particularly those held indoors, due to COVID-19 transmission risks.

Instead, those who would normally attend parties are advised to stick to their immediate households or social bubbles of six and plan a Halloween movie night or other activities.

Those who do decide to attend or host a party are advised to keep it small—that means you should know everyone who attends and no plus-ones allowed. More guidelines on safe gatherings are provided on the BCCDC website.

The gist of it is that gatherings are safer when they’re held outdoors instead of indoors, and attendees are advised not to share things like snacks, drinks, smokes, tokes, and vapes with each other.

Props that could induce coughing, like smoke machines, should be stowed away, and people are reminded that open flames and hand sanitizer don’t mix well.

Trick or treating

The Halloween spirit can still be harnessed this October 31 when it comes time to trick or treat.

This year, little ghouls and witches are asked to stay close to home, knock on doors within their own neighbourhoods, and respect houses that are dark.

Trick or treaters should haunt the streets in groups no larger than six, taking care to leave space for other groups to venture forth on spaces like stairs and sidewalks.

Grouping in indoor spaces is not advised, and trick or treaters should wash their hands before going out, after getting home, and before eating treats.

“You don’t need to clean every treat. You should instead wash your hands after handling treats and not touch your face,” reads the BCCDC guidelines.

Handing out treats

For those who stay home and are tasked with handing out the goodies, it’s time to get creative.

The health authority says adults can use options like tongs, a baking sheet or make-shift a candy slide or chute to increase distance between themselves and trick or treaters while handing out candy.

Instead of leaving out a bowl of candy for kids to choose treats from, they’re advised to hand out individual pre-packaged and sealed goods to each child.

When handing out treats, people are asked to wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose, and if possible, stay outside the house to hand out treats so that kids don’t have to touch the doorbell.

“If you’re unable to sit outside to hand out treats, clean and disinfect doorbells and knobs, handrails, and any other high touch surface often during the evening,” says the BCCDC.

Much like party planners, Halloween decorating aficionados are asked to keep the smoke machine and other cough-inducing props away this year and “stick to the treats—not tricks”.

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