My plan for Halloween was simple. I was going to dress up in costume, attend a house party, and down boozy drinks as I danced to Michael Jackson’s Thriller until the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, that party was cancelled.
However, one look at the abundance of Halloween parties on social media, and perhaps some people didn’t get the memo.
Facebook is flooded with Halloween events being hosted across Metro Vancouver. One event at a popular downtown restaurant already has 80 people attending, and over 400 more are interested. Keep in mind there’s a provincial mandate stipulating that no bar, pub, or restaurant can operate at 100 per cent capacity.
While I understand the impulse to go out and party — especially after how miserable 2020 has been — attending and hosting large-scale events is reckless. These establishments may have COVID-19 guidelines in place, but enforcing them is another matter. Once the alcohol takes over, people get lost in the festivities and precautions like social distancing, mask-wearing, and even basic hygiene will go flying out the window like a witch riding a broomstick.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) encourages everyone to “skip Halloween parties this year.” Over a three-day period beginning Oct. 23, B.C. reported 817 new COVID-19 cases, smashing previous records. You might dress in costume as a superhero this Halloween, but you are not invulnerable to this virus.
So how can we get our ghoul on this Halloween while still being responsible?
COVID-19 is less likely to spread outdoors, but hosting outdoor events, like those over the summer, will be difficult as the mercury has already dipped below freezing, and snow has started falling in much of the country.
There is always a COVID-19 risk during indoor gatherings, but if you are going to have a small get-together at home, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, recommends these gatherings be limited to the members of your household, plus a “safe six” members of your social circle. Remember to keep at least six feet away from each other, and if possible, open windows to increase ventilation.
Whether or not to go trick-or-treating depends on your individual family and community. If you live in a city with hundreds of new cases per day, it’s probably best to avoid it. But if you live in a city with low COVID-19 rates, then perhaps it’s an activity you can partake in as long as you’re being safe.
For those who are going to don a costume and go trick-or-treating, the BCCDC recommends that people stick “to [their] local neighbourhood,” and “trick-or-treat in a small social group” and to “leave space between you and other groups to reduce crowding on stairs and sidewalks.” People should also include “a non-medical mask or face covering as part of your costume.” Finally, “wash your hands before you go out, when you get home, and before eating treats.”
If handing out candy, the BCCDC recommends wearing “a non-medical mask that covers your nose and mouth when handing out treats,” and “[using] tongs, a baking sheet or a candy slide to give more space when handing out candy.” They also advise to “clean and disinfect doorbells and knobs, handrails, and any other high touch [surfaces].”
My fiance and I are holding our third annual jack-o-lantern carving contest, where we get our friends to vote for their favourite via social media. I’ve lost two years in a row, so I may or may not want revenge.
Halloween 2020 won’t be how we imagined it would be. It even fell on a Saturday this year! But it’s important to make sacrifices now so we have a chance at returning to some kind of normalcy in 2021.
Regardless of your plans, I hope you have a skeleton of fun this Halloween! And come Nov. 1, all Halloween candy is 50 per cent off. You’re welcome.