TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford said Thursday he would prefer parents not take their children trick or treating this Halloween as the province struggles to keep its COVID-19 case numbers under control.
Just days after the province said it will put a “pause” on further loosening of any public health measures amid an uptick in provincial virus cases, Ford acknowledged Halloween will be a challenge this year.
While it is still a month and a half away, he said he would discuss the issue with the province’s health experts before making any firm recommendations.
“It just makes me nervous, kids going door-to-door with this, I’d prefer (they) not,” he said, adding it would be a shame if kids had to skip the activity this year because of the pandemic.
Ford said he’ll “play it by ear” as Oct. 31 approaches, because a lot can change.
“A month and a half is a long time when it comes to COVID,” he said. “You look back a month and a half ago, even a few weeks ago, we were below 100 (daily cases) and all of a sudden it spiked up to almost double.”
The province’s chief medical officer of health said members of Ontario’s public health measures table are discussing Halloween and haven’t given up on the idea that it could still take place with some adjustments.
The province may have to ask that Halloween activities take place in a more limited fashion, Dr. David Williams said.
But with proper cleaning and other public health measures, it’s possible that children could still celebrate Halloween in some fashion, he said.
“I’ll be asking our officials, how can it be done safely?” Williams said. “We’re looking at the protection of the children so that they’re not bringing more than the candy back home with them.”
Ontario has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, and reported 170 new cases Thursday, as well as one more death.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Christine Elliott cited the return to school, as well as the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in several parts of the province, as the reasons behind a government decision to keep existing public health measures in place for at least one more month.
The pause means current restrictions, such as caps on public gatherings or the size of social bubbles, will not change for the next 30 days.
Williams stressed that people across the province cannot let their guard down and must continue to follow public health guidelines.
He attributed some of the recent increase in cases to social gatherings and parties that have not respected masking, social bubbling or physical distancing rules.
Bars, restaurants and other businesses have not largely contributed to spread, he added.
“So the big backyard party with everybody just doing everything like it was two years ago is not acceptable, as the premier said,” Williams said. “We really have to take this seriously because ... we want to keep our community numbers down. With those down, it will keep it safer for our schools to open.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2020.