COVID-19 may be scary, but not scary enough to pre-empt Halloween, Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health said Wednesday.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said that barring any major outbreaks between now and Oct. 31, trick-or-treating will be permitted as long as guidelines are met. She said she hopes those guidelines will be posted on the government’s COVID-19 website by Friday.
“If our low prevalence of COVID-19 holds, there is no plan to cancel trick-or-treating for children,” she told reporters at the weekly pandemic briefing. ”With diligence, this can be done safely.”
There will be some obvious restrictions. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms or who is isolating for any reason should not go out, nor should they be involved in handing out treats at the door.
Fitzgerald said anyone in that situation should get someone else to answer the door, or simply put a sign up indicating they can’t participate. She also said trick-or-treaters should be respectful of such signs, as there is no way of knowing what the reason for them is.
Asked if she will recommend that children go only to friends’ or family’s homes, Fitzgerald said that depends on the epidemiology at the time.
“I don’t know if I’m an advocate of saying that children should just go to any house anyway,” she said. “I think small kids, most of us would agree, have to be watched carefully.”
But that could be a recommendation if the number of cases in the province increases.
“I guess time will tell what will have to happen.”
At Wednesday’s briefing, Health Minister Dr. John Haggie offered some clarification regarding essential workers entering the province from outside the Atlantic region.
In the health-care field, he said, these would be people with specific technical knowledge that is not available here, such as fixing a piece of radiology equipment.
As for construction companies and other businesses, the department relies on the “common sense and due diligence” of employers to decided whether the work can’t already be done here.
In any event, he said, all such people have to self-isolate like anyone else when they’re not at work.
“There’s no roaming around, as it were.”
Fitzgerald also repeated her mantra not to judge someone who has an exemption to come to the province.
“I ask that you be kind when you encounter these people coming from away, because you do not know another’s story,” she said.
The same respect should apply to encounters with border officials, health workers and educational staff, she said.
In other developments:
• The chief medical officer updated her stance on COVID-19 cases in the border region of Quebec, saying health officials have assured her that risk of transmission is low and that current allowances for cross-border travel remain in effect.
• Fitzgerald also issued a specific warning to young people who vape, saying that apart from it being risky as it is, sharing equipment makes it even riskier.