Here's how to trick-or-treat safely this Halloween
OTTAWA -- Trick-or-treating is back on this year but there are still some precautions to consider to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.
The annual Halloween candy hunt is a favourite for children, but many are still unvaccinated. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch offered some tips on CTV Morning Live for making the most of your night and keeping your little ghouls and goblins safe.
Wear a mask
Bogoch says making sure your kids have masks on if they're near other people is one of the best ways to help keep them safe.
"If people are outdoors, trick-or-treating with their family, if they have a mask on when they're in close proximity to other people, it should be okay. I mean, that's about as safe as it gets," he said.
Ottawa Public Health suggests you get creative in working a face covering into the costume.
"Know that a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering. A costume mask should not be worn over a non-medical mask or face covering because it can make it hard to breathe," OPH says.
You can avoid a lot of risk by sticking to door-to-door trick-or-treating and keeping away from larger gatherings indoors, Bogoch said.
"You just have to avoid the places that we know where COVID is transmitted: indoor gatherings, unmasked, lots of people, people who are unvaccinated, those are kinds of situations to avoid and we can easily avoid that on Halloween," he said. "Just be outside with your family. You're not going to get COVID from touching that little box of Smarties and opening it up. This is mostly transmitted through the air."
OPH also recommends keeping outdoors and also suggests having hand sanitizer ready for before and after handling masks, when getting home, and before and after eating treats.
Keep interactions at the door brief
Ottawa Public Health recommends to trick-or-treaters and the candy-givers to keep interactions brief.
Bogoch adds that as long as there isn't a lot of crowding near the door, knocking and asking for treats is a low-risk activity.
"If you have a mask on, if there's not a big crowd gathered on the doorstep, I think it's totally reasonable," he said. "Of course, we're not in an era where things are 100 per cent safe but, in general, this would be about as low risk as it gets."
If you're handing out candy, OPH recommends you wash your hands frequently through the evening and to keep the mask on if you’re going to be close to others.
Stay home if you're sick
Ottawa Public Health says if you or your children are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, don't go out trick-or-treating and don't hand out candy, even if your symptoms are mild.
This also goes for Halloween parties or other festivities.
Bogoch says there is always the possibility of a post Halloween spike in cases, but he says it would be linked more to parties indoors than trick-or-treating in small groups on Halloween night.
"We have to expect that people are going to having parties, like every Halloween," he said, "but we're still in the midst of a pandemic so you'd definitely want to avoid large indoor gatherings, especially with unvaccinated individuals, particularly kids under 12. You still have to be careful here.
"But, from a trick-or-treating standpoint: outdoors? I think we're okay here."