Can we trick or treat this year?
What the British people crave the most right now, is normality. A tiny slice of how life used to be before the pandemic came along and swept us off our feet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look hopeful that Halloween will offer everyone the normality we desperately need this year.
It all boils down to the dreaded three tier system and where your postcode falls on the map. If your area steeps into ‘very high risk’ you can expect to be celebrating Halloween at home this year.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, because there will be some areas where trick or treating is technically still allowed… If you happen to live in a participating neighbourhood.
If your postcode falls into the medium risk tier, children will be able to trick or treat if they stick to the rule of 6; wear face masks and regularly sanitize hands, especially after touching sweets and doors.
f your postcode falls into high risk, technically children will still be able to go trick or treating if they social distance, don’t mix households and stay in a group smaller than 6 whilst wearing face masks and regularly hand sanitizing. It does sound like a lot of work though doesn’t it?
What to do if I live in a ‘very high risk’ area?
Those unfortunate enough to live in the worst hit places will probably have to find other activities at home to make up for the lack of sweeties this year but don’t worry if you’re out of ideas, here are some Halloween activities for home:
A child friendly horror movie and some spooky snacks.
Decorating your house to give it a Halloween spark.
Creating an indoor sweetie hunt.
Dress up and throw an indoor Halloween party on zoom with your lock down neighbours.
Make homemade Halloween inspired food.
Or maybe, just give the hectic celebrations a rest this year, and throw an even bigger Halloween celebration next year!
Is trick or treating a good idea?
There are some split opinions on trick or treating, lots of people say it should be banned for fear of spreading more infections to the elderly and those still choosing to shield. Others say children should have some sense of normality and innocence during these troubling times and should be allowed to take part in this activity if there are others willing to participate.
I think as students have been allowed to attend schools with 100s of other children, with all places of education referring to the student’s peer groups as ‘bubbles’ then children should be allowed to take part in socially distanced, masked, trick or treating on households that also share the same opinion, in their household ‘bubble’. When I was a child there were always houses decorated with Halloween decorations. Their gardens and windows filled with pumpkins and lights and that’s how you knew they were giving out sweets. I wasn’t allowed to knock on any door that didn’t have a pumpkin. If everyone did this for this year, then children and parents would know clearly what houses were handing out sweets or not before spreading germs to them unnecessarily. The government could make an official announcement and explain the new rules to make it as safe as possible for everyone.
I can see the potentially damaging consequences if infections were to transfer in this way. However, I think it should be an individual choice to make on how Halloween is celebrated this year. No one should feel pressured to hand out sweets if they don’t want to and no parent should feel pressured into taking their child trick or treating if they don’t feel like it’s safe.
Some paediatricians responded to the question ‘Should Halloween go ahead this year?’ and these are the responses:
“Halloween and trick-or-treating are a highlight of childhood. Unfortunately, trick-or-treating may not be the safest way to celebrate this year. The CDC classifies traditional trick-or-treating as high risk during the pandemic. That’s because kids, and parents, cluster at doorways, expose their neighbours and put their hands in treat bowls potentially spreading germs on the surface of treat wrappers. In San Diego County, the health department does not recommend it either. If my teenage kids want to go trick-or-treating, I wouldn’t allow it, but I would offer to have a fun night at home with treats and Halloween-themed movies. For parents who really want to continue the tradition, I recommend talking to your friends and neighbours to set up socially distanced one-way trick-or-treating in which kids pick up individually wrapped treats from participating homes. Everyone should still wear a face covering and maintain their distance. Don’t forget to have everyone wash their hands when they get home, before enjoying their goodies. Overall, while this Halloween will be very different, with some creativity and positivity, parents can still make it fun.” – Dr Jaime Friedman, a paediatrician with a practice in San Diego and director of marketing at Children’s Care Medical Group.
“To be safe and prevent the spread of corona-virus, families shouldn’t trick-or-treat as usual this year.” – Dr. Candice W. Jones, an Orlando paediatrician in practice for 14 years.
“I would consider other ideas like having one or two friends over for an outdoor get-together, an outside socially distanced ‘parade’ or a virtual Halloween costume contest” – Dr. Hansa Bhargava, a paediatrician and senior medical director of WebMD.
“I’ll be skipping the houses who are not providing easily accessible treats from their driveways or patios and will avoid getting close to other family groups” – Dr. Natasha Burgert.
“Don’t open candy while trick or treating. Wait until you get home to wash hands first” – Dr. Nerissa Bauer, a behavioural paediatrician in Indianapolis, Indiana.
What will happen if I break the rules?
Boris Johnson has warned those who break the 6 people rule on Halloween could face a £200 fine if caught.
This comes after Boris Johnson is recorded saying ‘these tighter restrictions have been put in place because the British public became ‘complacent and a bit blasé about transmission and the rules on social distancing weren’t perhaps obeyed in the way they could have been or enforced in the way they could have been’.
Go out and have fun
If your area allows, go out and have fun, because after the year we’ve had, we deserve some cheeky free sweets and some dressing up but don’t forget to wear a mask, stay socially distanced and go out in a group no greater than 6. Happy Halloween!