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

LETTER: Nice to see traumas of war now recognized as disabilities

Langley man remembers Second World War and it impact on surviving soldiers

A rendering of the planned seniors housing apartment complex. (Langley Township/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Hospital Foundation plans seniors housing in Murrayville

The project will make 30 per cent of units affordable, if approved

Dr. Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham and Dr. Richard Sawatzky were inducted into an elite fellowship with the Canadian Academy of Nursing. (TWU/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Nursing profs inducted into national academy

Canadian Nurses Association honours the country’s most accomplished nursing leaders, two from TWU

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

An RCMP officer got more than bargained for when stopping a vehicle with a broken brake light. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley RCMP puts the brakes on pair found with drugs, knife and cash

The passenger was wanted on a warrant, and the driver faces various changes.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

A UBC study recommends an multi-government investment of $381 million to protect 102 species at risk in the Fraser River estuary. (Photo supplied by Yuri Choufour)
102 Fraser River estuary species at risk of extinction, researchers warn

UBC team develops $381-million strategy to combat crisis, boost economy

Most Read