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Sudbury families urged to celebrate Halloween safely if they decide to go door-to-door

Other areas in Toronto and Southern Ontario discourage door-to-door trick or treating
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Sudbury Public Health is encouraging families to practise COVID-19 precautions for Halloween, while several jurisdictions in Southern Ontario are discouraging any sort of door-to-door trick or treating. (Adobe Stock Photo)

Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) hasn't taken a firm stand on whether to support or shoot down a traditional Halloween evening other than encouraging families to celebrate safely.

“We know that many people are wondering what activities can and cannot happen this year,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for PHSD, in a statement on Monday. 

“While we are still navigating our first Halloween in a global pandemic, I think we can all agree that we want everyone to be safe.

“Changing celebratory traditions is hard, but we know we can’t let our guard down yet. The best thing we can do is continue to take steps to lower our risks by taking activities outdoors or online; by wearing masks and keeping a distance; and by gathering with your household members.”

The health unit added that it will continue to watch the provincial situation in the next week or so to determine if any change is required.

“Although much can change between now and the end of October, and evolving situations may require events to be postponed, cancelled, or limited, many of our traditional Halloween activities can be modified in a COVID-safe way. We encourage everyone to find ways to limit the spread of the virus and still have a happy Halloween with public health measures in place,” said the PHSD statement. 

PHSD said it is safest to celebrate Halloween at home, but those who do choose to go out door-to-door should take precautions.

This would include not lingering on door steps, maintaining a two-metre distance, washing your hands often, using tongs or other devices to convey candies from a safe distance, and to stay away from homes where the outdoor lights are off. 

The Sudbury situation is different from several jurisdictions in Southern Ontario where the province issued a statement on Monday clearly stating that the traditional Halloween was not being recommended.

"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," said a statement from Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health. 

This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Encouraging kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties;
  • Organizing a Halloween candy hunt with people living in their own household;
  • Carving pumpkins;
  • Having a movie night or sharing scary stories; and
  • Decorating front lawns.

The provincial recommendation is to dress up and participate in "virtual activities and parties" and celebrate Halloween online. 

The province has also suggested that children can organize a candy hunt with people living in their own household (Easter egg style). Families are also encouraged to carve pumpkins, have a Halloween movie night, share scary stories and decorate front yards.

Another Northern jurisdiction, Algoma Public Health in Sault Ste. Marie, has advised community members to be cautious and take preventive actions when planning Halloween activities.

“High-risk activities like indoor haunted houses or Halloween parties should be avoided this year,” says Dr. Marlene Spruyt, Medical Officer of Health. 

“By law, indoor private gatherings must be limited to 10 people or less - the fewer the people, the lower the risk.”

Algoma Public Health has also reminded families to take precautions, avoid any close contact and stay two metres apart from others outside of their immediate households.