What you should know before going trick-or-treating in Ontario this Halloween
TORONTO -- Kids in Ontario will be allowed to go trick-or-treating this year, but may have to refrain from saying that same phrase in exchange for candy on Halloween night.
As families walk from house to house this year, officials are asking them not to sing or shout for their treats and to build face coverings into their costumes.
The new guidelines, which were released earlier this month, keep in line with rules laid out over the last few months that encourage mask-wearing and physical distancing.
Here's what you need to know before you head out the door on Halloween night.
Officials are urging children to stay home if they experience symptoms of COVID-19 and to take part in outdoor activities as much as possible if they do participate in Halloween festivities.
They are also asking children to wear a proper face covering or mask while trick-or-treating. Officials have repeatedly said that a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering; however, they also warn that wearing a costume mask over a non-medical mask could make it difficult to breathe. They recommend "being creative" and building the face covering into your costume.
Children must not sing or shout for treats, and parents are encouraged to keep interactions with homeowners brief. Physical distancing—or taking turns at the door—is encouraged.
"Use hand sanitizer often, especially before and after handling your face covering, after touching frequently touched surfaces, when you arrive home from trick-or-treating, and before and after handling or eating treats," the guidelines said.
"There is no need to clean or disinfect pre-packaged treats."
The same general rules apply for those giving out treats as for those trick-or-treating. If anyone in the household develops symptoms of COVID-19, that household should not hand out candy.
Interactions with children should remain brief and those giving out candy should consider wearing a face covering if physical distancing is not possible.
Treats should be purchased and packaged, meaning no homemade goodies should be passed out.
Homeowners are also being told not to ask for the standard "trick-or-treat" chant, as well as any singing or shouting, in exchange for candy.
Those handing out candy are expected to sanitize or wash their hands often throughout the evening.
FEWER DOORS TO KNOCK ON DUE TO PANDEMIC
Last year some children in Ontario were unable to take part in trick-or-treating due to the spread of COVID-19. Premier Doug Ford said at the time that the risk of disease spread was too great in hot spots like Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa for children to gather at houses.
“We’re trying to make it as safe and simple as possible, my friends, we all know this isn’t going to be a regular Halloween,” Ford said in 2020. “We just can’t have hundreds of kids showing up at your door if you live in a hotspot, especially in an apartment building.”
A new study by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that while many parents are planning on letting their children go trick-or-treating this year, fewer than half of Canadians will open their doors to kids because of the pandemic.
About 56 per cent of respondents said they would open their doors. Of those, half said they usually hand out candy on the night of Halloween.
With files from the Canadian Press