OTTAWA -- Trick-or-treaters in Alexandria, Cornwall, Casselman, Hawkesbury, Rockland and other areas of eastern Ontario are being asked to stay home on Halloween night due to COVID-19.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit says due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a recent increase in cases, it's "strongly recommending" residents avoid traditional ways of celebrating Halloween, including no trick-or-treating.

In a statement, the health unit says going out trick-or-treating or handing out treats increases your family's risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 because it exposes you to others.

"I understand that kids as well as many adults look forward to Halloween at this time of year, but we want everyone to remain safe," says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health.

"With COVID-19 cases on the rise, this means finding ways to celebrate that don't increase the risk of spreading the virus."

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit also strongly recommends cancelling traditional organized community and municipal Halloween events.

Nine new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region on Saturday, following 18 new cases on Friday.

On Wednesday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said she recommended no trick-or treating in Ottawa this year due to COVID-19. Casselman announced this week that all Halloween activities are cancelled.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit says if you do choose to trick-or-treat, there are several measures to take to do it more safely, including:

  • Choose a costume that allows you and your child to wear a non-medical mask
  • Only trick-or-treat outside. Stay in your own community
  • Trick or treat only with members of your direct household
  • Where possible, knock instead of pushing doorbells
  • Bring hand sanitizer, and use it before handing candy, or after touching high-touch surfaces like doorbells, doors or railings.

If you are handing out treats, the health unit recommends keeping at least two metres distance from trick-or-treaters and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer. You are also encouraged to make candy bundles/bags using prepackaged treats.