Torontonians find new ways to celebrate Halloween amid pandemic
TORONTO -- Mayor John Tory is urging residents of Toronto to follow the advice of public health officials and avoid big parties and gatherings today as the city celebrates a very different Halloween this year.
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams has told residents in Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa, and York Region not to take children trick-or-treating this year due a growing number of infections in the COVID-19 hot spots.
“Given the high transmission of COVID-19 in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York Region, traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is not recommended and people should consider alternative ways to celebrate,” Williams previously said at a news conference this month.
Public health officials have suggested a number of different activities families can do within their own households, including pumpkin carving, Halloween movie marathons, and candy scavenger hunts.
“The name of the game right now is to avoid contact with people you don’t live with so I hope people will make their own judgment because in the end that’s what they have to do,” Tory told reporters on Saturday afternoon.
“The big gatherings are the things that are most worrisome and hopefully those won’t occur.”
Some Toronto neighbourhoods have come together to find new ways to safely enjoy the holiday this year.
One Torontonian, who lives in the city's east end, told CP24 on Saturday that residents on her street organized a parade for children and parents this year.
"Kids and one parent can proceed in this parade, keeping distance from one another. They've asked people to put their pumpkins on the edge of their property," she said.
"The kids are going to walk back and forth on the sidewalks while we stay on the porch."
She added that one neighbour has assembled treat bags for all of the children on the street.
"They will get their gift bags by somebody safely at the end. It's amazing how the community has come together, how the block has come together to do this," she said.
Another Toronto resident said she has seen more decorations pop up in her neighbourhood this year.
"I think there are much more decorations out there on the lawns and an awareness of the situation," she said. "There seems to be an interest in stronger participation."
Tory said the city's Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square will be lit up to mark the holiday today.
In regions of the province where trick-or-treating is permitted, public health officials are recommending people hand out candy using tongs or other implements rather than touching it.
People are also asked to wear masks at all times and anyone distributing candy should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.