TORONTO — With Halloween in place, experts say trick-or-treating may be safe this year, depending on where you live, but house-to-house ghouls and goblins should do so with caution.

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Anna Banerjee, an infectious disease specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, didn’t recommend trick-or-treating last year, but told Granthshala.ca this year is different depending on your location’s COVID-19 rates.

“It’s safe for most people this year and right now the amount of COVID – depending on where you live – is low,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I think it really depends on the numbers. For example, in Alberta, I don’t think trick-or-treating is the best idea right now, but compared to a small town that doesn’t have much COVID Where people are vaccinated.”

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An Alberta Health spokesperson said “there are currently minimal restrictions that will affect Halloween,” but trick-or-treaters should stay home if they’re feeling any symptoms and avoid touching doors or railings.

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Alberta, Canada’s most active province, has nearly 19,000 active cases of COVID-19, according to the Granthshala.ca COVID-19 case tracker.

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Dr. Brian Conway, infectious disease specialist at the Vancouver Infectious Disease Center, agreed with Banerjee that people in both Alberta and Saskatchewan should be more vigilant this Halloween, adding that it should be an outdoor activity across Canada this year.

“Let’s put it out there, we make sure that the homes that are being visited, we have reason to believe or we know that individuals in the household have been vaccinated, so you can make sure that you get vaccinated against friends, neighbors and people like that.” Going to the next level,” he said in a recent virtual interview.

Banerjee said that regardless of the local rate of COVID-19, parents may want to consider other options, such as exchanging candy with a small group of friends or a table for children to grab To behave

Conway suggested that parents should somehow find out whether the homes they’re visiting have been vaccinated, either through trick-or-treating people they already know. or are doing their best to pre-screen the route ahead of time.

“We are going to live in a post-COVID world for a long time and for the foreseeable future, it will be a world of vaccinated and unvaccinated,” he said.

“This activity, trick-or-treating, is really meant to be done only by vaccinated individuals and for young people who cannot be vaccinated, we need to make sure they are only vaccinated people during this activity. be surrounded by.”

Conway stopped to suggest that trick-or-treaters should ask households for proof of vaccination, but said Halloween is a chance for people to become more used to these types of situations.

“Hopefully this will be another occasion – a momentous occasion – for our children where this normalization will just continue in a post-COVID world,” he said.

Banerjee said it is important for children to understand that trick-or-treating may lead to fewer homes being visited, as some may not feel comfortable with crowds at their doors.

“I think there are a lot of adults who might be compromising or just can’t feel very comfortable, mainly with a whole bunch of unvaccinated kids coming to their door,” she said.

“I think people who aren’t comfortable, if Halloween is on, they should turn off their lights and we should have a high acceptance that there are a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable with it.”

As for the debate over parents sending their kids out for Halloween, Banerjee said it ultimately comes down to what kind of risk the parents are willing to accept.

“What can spread to these children who are unvaccinated? Yes, maybe, but there is also a possibility of spreading in the classrooms,” she said. “I think the risk of exposure is fairly low, but when you have many different babies coming in, the risk can increase.”

Last year, Ontario did not recommend trick-or-treating in the Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York areas due to high cases, while Westport Village outside Kingston, Ont. All together canceled the Halloween festivities.

Ontario’s chief public health officer, Dr. Kieran Moore, told reporters Tuesday that Ontario’s guidance for Halloween will be announced Thursday, while several other provinces are still coming up with plans for Halloween.

In a statement, the Public Health Agency of Canada said that any instructions on trick-or-treating if left to the provinces, but Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, previously suggested that those handing out candy Pre-packaged and personally handed out, with lots of hand sanitizers around.

Each expert and government group agreed that the specific COVID-19 suggestions of maintaining a two-meter distance from others and wearing a facemask also apply this Halloween.

“This year — like last year — the scariest Halloween costume is the one without a mask. So wear a mask,” Conway said.

Granthshala News writer Alexandra May Jones, with files from Granthshala News Toronto and The Canadian Press