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

Just Posted

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read