C/O David Menidrey, Unsplash

As fall holidays approach, the Ontario government releases guidelines for Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day and Halloween events

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Halloween looked very different than a regular year’s, as was the case for other fall holidays such as Thanksgiving. 

In 2020, traditional door-to-door trick or treating was not recommended for York, Peel, Toronto and Ottawa public health regions. Although some other regions were allowed to celebrate Halloween trick or treating, the Ontario government asked that extra precautions be taken. 

This year, due to vaccinations and lower case counts, individuals of all age groups should find themselves able to celebrate Halloween this year. These precautions are important for McMaster University students to consider, whether they go trick or treating alone or with friends and family. 

For children in Ontario, this means that trick or treating will be able to go ahead, but with some precautions

These precautions include remaining outdoors as much as possible, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, maintaining physical distancing when possible, interacting with others for only brief periods of time and using hand sanitizer.

“Be creative; fashion a face covering into your costume design, but remember a costume mask is no substitute for a proper face covering,” said Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, in his address to the province. 

“Be creative; fashion a face covering into your costume design, but remember a costume mask is no substitute for a proper face covering.”

Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer

Disinfecting pre-packaged candies is not among the precautions necessary for those going trick or treating this year.

Along with Halloween-related guidelines, the province also released similar sets of guidelines for Thanksgiving and Remembrance day. These guidelines emphasize minimizing the number of people attending events, using outdoor spaces and sanitizing regularly.

People should also adhere to the current provincial gathering limits set at 100 people outdoors and 25 people indoors. 

If a gathering includes vaccinated and unvaccinated people, Moore advises that masks stay on even indoors. This is especially important for older people and those with chronic medical conditions. 

For all three holidays, the province emphasized the importance of staying home and engaging in a virtual celebration for individuals showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

Moore noted that this applies to all individuals, regardless of the severity of symptoms. 

“If you are sick, even with mild symptoms, you should not be participating in social events like Halloween,” said Moore. 

“If you are sick, even with mild symptoms, you should not be participating in social events like Halloween.”

Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer

As well, the province emphasized that, especially for those individuals who are unvaccinated or at an elevated risk for COVID-19, the safest way to gather continues to be on virtual platforms. 

“We know from experience [that] it is exactly these kinds of events that can lead to spikes in transmission. But, provided we do our best to follow the guidelines in place, we can enjoy some well-deserved time with friends and family while also keeping our community transmission low,” explained Moore. 

“We know from experience [that] it is exactly these kinds of events that can lead to spikes in transmission. But, provided we do our best to follow the guidelines in place, we can enjoy some well-deserved time with friends and family while also keeping our community transmission low.”

Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer

As of Oct. 8, the Ontario government has now administered 22 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are not vaccinated can book their vaccination on the Ontario website at: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario

It is important for McMaster students to consider all necessary precautions as they plan their fall festivities. By remaining aware of government recommendations and regulations, students can ensure that they are protecting themselves and those around them.

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