Halloween: Can I go trick or treating?

You have dressed as the Pied Piper and your children are spooky-looking in their rat costumes, can you take them door-to-door trick or treating for Halloween this year?

Well, it seems to depend on where you live.

The Scottish Government has explicitly advised against trick or treating, or guising, as it “brings an additional and avoidable risk of spreading the virus”.

Halloween 2020
Conor Pilkington, from Gateshead, went the extra mile with decorations this year (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“Going door to door, passing sweets, touching items others have touched – all of that gives Covid the opportunity to spread,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Bobbing for apples, trick or treating, and sweet-sharing have all been strongly discouraged by Northern Ireland’s public health agency because “these are not safe practices this year, as they increase the risk of infection.”

And in Wales, October 31 falls during a 17-day national “firebreak” lockdown, meaning meeting people from other households, either indoors or outdoors, is outlawed.

In areas with a HIGH Local #COVID19 Alert Level:

🎃 Don't meet people socially anywhere indoors

🎃 Only meet people outdoors in groups of up to six

🎃 Remember #HandsFaceSpacepic.twitter.com/16R5O8uJOF

— Public Health England (@PHE_uk) October 30, 2020

Public Health England (PHE) has ventured little advice on traditional Halloween practices beyond encouraging people to “follow the rules in your local area to stay safe whilst having fun”.

“However you choose to celebrate Halloween this year, please remember to wash your hands, cover your face and make space”, said medical director Yvonne Doyle.

In Tier 1 medium alert areas, this seems to leave open the possibility of some door-to-door Halloween activities, as people can meet indoors and outdoors in groups of up to six.

In Tier 2 high alert level areas, you can meet people outdoors in groups of up to six – but households should not mix indoors, while in Tier 3 household mixing is effectively banned in most cases.

Halloween 2020
Decorations at a house on Thornville Road in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

In the US, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has made a guide advising on making Halloween activities as safe as possible.

It advises bringing hand sanitiser with you if going out, using it before eating any treats, and avoiding direct contact with trick or treaters.

This includes wearing a mask, handing out sweets outdoors if possible, setting up a table with individually bagged treats, and washing your hands before preparing it all.

It said safer activities include a spooky family movie night, pumpkin carving within your own households, and a Halloween-themed outdoor scavenger hunt.

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