Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Province offers public health advice for Halloween

The Province of Ontario has released some detailed public health advice for Halloween this year.

Dr. David Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario, issued a statement to the media on Monday, October 19, 2020.

“As Ontarians begin to prepare for Halloween this year, I’d like to remind everyone to take extra precautions to ensure you are keeping yourself and your families safe,” Dr. Williams said.

For people living outside the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions and are going to go out to trick or treat, Dr. Williams is offering the following tips:

– Only go out with members of your household

– Only trick or treat outside

– Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering. A costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering and should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe

– Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting. Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects

– Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer

– Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or other similar tools to hand out treats.

“I would also like to remind everyone that we are in a second wave of COVID-19,” Dr. Williams said.

“There have been increases in cases in many areas across the province, and the percentage of people tested who get a positive result is going up.”

To have a safe and happy Halloween, Ontarians should follow some simple steps, Dr. Williams said:

– Avoid gatherings with people outside of your household

– Stay home if you are feeling ill, even if you have mild symptoms, or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19

“The severity of this second wave is in our hands,” Dr. Williams said.

“Through our collective efforts, we can change the outcome of this new outbreak. That is why it remains critical to continue following these important actions everyday in order to protect your health and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

These action, include:

– Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity.

– Stay home if you feel ill or have symptoms even if they are mild

– Maintain physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household

– Wear a face covering indoors in workplaces, businesses and facilities, and wear one outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained or if wearing one is required

– Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly

– Follow social gathering and organized public event limits

– Download the COVID Alert mobile app

– If you are concerned you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, take the online COVID-19 self-assessment

– Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through COVID Alert. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.

Given the high transmission of COVID-19 in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York Region, traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended and people should consider alternative ways to celebrate, Dr. Williams said.

This can include, but is not limited to:

– Encouraging kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties;

– Organizing a Halloween candy hunt with people living in their own household;

– Carving pumpkins;

– Having a movie night or sharing scary stories; and

– Decorating front lawns.

“It is recommended that you also check with your local municipality or public health unit for any additional advice or restrictions that may be in place,” Dr. Williams said.

“It is also critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween.”

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