Ontario says kids can trick-or-treat this Halloween, with some precautions

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TORONTO — Trick-or-treating is back this year — just not too loudly.

Last year, the province recommended kids in the COVID-19 hot spots of Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York regions not go trick-or-treating, but this year, Ontario's top doctor says children should feel free to go door to door.

It should happen outdoors as much as possible, with kids wearing a face mask — not a costume mask, not crowding door steps, or shouting too loudly, Dr. Kieran Moore said.

"It's just not to yell too exuberantly," he said.

"Clearly you have to make your presence known to get your treat, and you have to be able to knock as well as ask for the treat. We just ask not with a high volume that could potentially aerosolize. It's an abundance of caution."

More traditional Thanksgiving celebrations can also go ahead this year, though with some COVID-19 precautions still in place, Moore said. Last year, gatherings were limited to immediate households, with many families seeing their extended loved ones virtually.

"But thanks to our collective efforts to get vaccinated and to follow public health guidance, we are able to gather together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, provided public health measures are followed," he said.

People should use outdoor spaces whenever possible. When everyone is vaccinated, people can gather indoors without masks, but if there are people from multiple households and some guests are unvaccinated, people should wear face coverings and physically distance, he said.

As always, people should stay home if experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, Moore said, but otherwise, they should be able to enjoy time with friends and family.

"I am only too aware of the negative impacts the social isolation can have and the need to spend time with our loved ones," he said.

"That is why we want families to embrace the opportunity to get together for their mental, physical and social well-being."

Moore also said a number of recent outbreaks have been associated with weddings, and he notes that next week proof of vaccination will be required to attend weddings and funerals in meeting and event spaces.

Ontario reported 587 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, and six new deaths.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 423 of those cases are in people who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.

There are 149 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2021.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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