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No need to cancel Halloween — as long as you follow the rules: Dr. Tam

Wednesday, October 14th 2020, 9:35 am - Chief public health officer suggests adding a mask to this year's costume

Canada's top public doctor says there's no need to cancel Halloween this year — as long as trick-or-treaters respect the new realities of the pandemic.

"I think finding that balance of trying to provide some degree of normality, even though it is actually different from any other year, most public health leaders think that that is actually important," Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told a briefing in Ottawa this morning.

Tam advised parents and kids to maintain physical distancing while trick-or-treating outside, to stick to pre-packaged treats and to have hand sanitizer readily available.

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She also said that a creative use of "different fabrics" can turn a day-to-day face mask into part of a costume.

"There's some really interesting ideas where people are handing out treats at the end of a hockey stick or something, using a pool noodle to tell your kids how far they should be standing apart from each other," she said. "So there are ways to actually manage this outdoors."


Tam stressed that parents and children should follow guidelines set by local health authorities, as some local COVID-19 caseloads are far larger than others.

For example, in Ottawa — which moved to red on its COVID alert scale after a recent surge in cases — the local public health agency has put forward a series of suggestions that include holding virtual costume parties and limiting trick-or-treating to the people in a household.

Both Tam and her colleague, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo, said more tips will be posted to the Public Health Agency of Canada's website soon.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer, told reporters at her daily news conference today that no door-to-door trick-or-treating will be permitted in regions of the province currently in the orange phase of recovery.

This article, written by Catharine Tunney, was originally published for CBC News.

Thumbnail image courtesy: Getty Images

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