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

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Kassandra Clack of Abbotsford has been named one of 18 finalists in the Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search, taking place in June.
Fraser Valley country singer Kassandra Clack a finalist in national talent search

18 finalists vie to win Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search in June

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read