FILE – People go trick or treating in the rain on Halloween in Ottawa, on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

FILE – People go trick or treating in the rain on Halloween in Ottawa, on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Wash your hands, not your candy: UBC offers COVID-safe tips for Halloween trick-or-treating

Wearing a non-medical mask and keeping groups small is key

With Halloween right around the corner, a University of B.C. researcher is offering tips for COVID-safe trick-or-treating experience this year.

Cases of the virus have spiked in B.C, with a record-high 274 new cases on Thursday (Oct. 22), largely linked to social gatherings. Health officials are expected to provide weekend numbers on Monday (Oct. 26) afternoon.

READ MORE: B.C shatters single-day COVID-19 record with 274 new cases; most linked to gatherings

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease expert and clinical associate professor in UBC faculty of medicine’s department of pediatrics, said it is possible to have a COVID-safe Halloween this year. The key, Murthy said, is to keep it small – six people or less.

“It’s also important to look at who your child has been exposed to recently. If your child regularly plays with another child in the neighbourhood outside in the park, then conceivably they could trick-or-treat together on Halloween, following physical distancing guidelines, similar to a school friend,” he said.

While some Canadian cities like Ottawa and Toronto have recommended that kids not trick-or-treat this year, B.C. has said it can be done safely.

However, there are a few caveats. Murthy said that while it’s unreasonable to expect kids to not say “tick-or-treat” when they ask for candy, they should probably avoid yelling it – or anything else – to slow the transmission of respiratory droplets.

Children are being encouraged to wear non-medical masks this year, and Murthy said that getting creative and decorating one is a good way to incorporate it into a costume in a fun way.

But not all costume masks are created equal.

“If there’s a big hole in the costume mask then respiratory particles can get through, and it probably won’t work well as a mask,” he said, adding that kids should also not wear both costume and non-medical masks together because it can make it hard to breathe.

Keeping distance is also key, with Murthy recommending that groups keep their distance from others, including by waiting for the previous party to leave a house before walking up the driveway. It’s also a good idea that this year, more than any other, to not go up to houses that are dark since many people may not want to hand out candy this year.

Cleaning candy however, isn’t needed, Murthy said, although it’s a good idea to wash your hands before and after eating any treats.

For houses handing out treats, Murthy recommends keeping your distance from trick-or-treaters by using something like a chute or using tongs. Otherwise, a mask is always recommended and so is waiting for kids outside where the risk of transmission is lower.

READ MORE: B.C. CDC releases Thanksgiving, Halloween tips for COVID-safe fall celebrations


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusHalloween

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

Employees at The Bargain! Shop pose with Santa at last year’s toy drive. There will be no photos with Santa this year to keep him healthy for Christmas, but the toy drive will be back for a fourth year. (Claire Palmer photo)
Fourth annual toy drive fundraiser underway

The Bargain! Shop is looking to raise $5,000 locally

Friends with Dorothy opens in Victoria.
LGBT2Q+ lounge Friends with Dorothy opens second location in Victoria

The Kelowna-based lounge plans to open in Victoria mid-December

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

Exact numbers are not known for active cases in Golden. (File photo)
No cluster in Golden, according to Interior Health

Despite positive cases in the community, no cluster or outbreak has been declared by Interior Health

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP issue warning after woman assaulted while walking in Kelowna

On Saturday, the unknown man ran up and grabbed her in an inappropriate manner before fleeing

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A West Cabs driver is being investigated for an incident which allegedly took place this week. (West Cabs)
West Kelowna cab driver under investigation after altercation over his lack of mask

Passenger alleges cab driver became confrontational when asked about wearing mask

Supt. Brian Hunter will be presenting first quarter RCMP stats to Penticton city council, tomorrow (April 21). (Phil McLachlan - Western News - File)
South Okanagan RCMP superintendent wants to set up dedicated prolific offender task force

Supt. Brian Hunter plans to use the additional officers city council approved for the force

(Pixabay)
‘We need to be empathetic’; Kelowna support worker speaks out after disabled individual denied haircut

Individual with severe autism denied service at a Kelowna hair salon for not wearing mask

Parents are urged to be on alert after a potential child abduction attempt took place near Armstrong Elementary School Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (amsas/neden photo)
Possible child abduction attempt at North Okanagan elementary school prompts warning

A letter from the school’s principal urges parents to be on high alert

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COLUMN: Anti-maskers’ message misses the mark

Following COVID-19 restrictions now could determine just how happy our holidays are

Most Read