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Public health OK’s COVID-modified Halloween

Halloween takes place under a full moon this year and on a Saturday to boot – but timing is everything and in COVID-19 times, a new public health order has arrived to ensure festivities stay small.
halloween witches
Sechelt witches prepare for their Halloween dance, a new tradition that started in 2018.

Halloween takes place under a full moon this year and on a Saturday to boot – but timing is everything and in COVID-19 times, a new public health order has arrived to ensure festivities stay small.

“We need to focus on small groups outside, do things with the kids to help them have a fun time,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry during her Oct. 26 media briefing. “But this is not the time for Halloween parties.”

In light of surging COVID-19 numbers related to the Thanksgiving long weekend, Henry introduced a new public health order Monday, restricting gatherings in private homes to no more than the immediate household and “six additional others.”

But that doesn’t mean Halloween is a no-go this year.

Last week Henry assured the public Halloween is a low-risk activity since it’s outdoors, and advice on BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) website suggests getting “creative in making space when handing out treats” instead of heading to indoor Halloween parties, since  “trick-or-treating in small groups can be a safe and a fun activity.”

The agency recommends:

• Staying home and not participating if sick.

• Wearing masks.

• Washing hands or using hand sanitizer often, including before eating treats.

• Avoiding busy areas and sticking to local neighbourhoods.

• Keeping to groups of six or less if trick-or-treating together and leaving space between groups when approaching houses.

• Using tongs, baking sheets or “making a candy slide” to maintain distance when handing out treats.

• Giving pre-packaged treats only.

• Staying outside if possible when offering treats.

Witches and bashes

On the Sunshine Coast, a few Halloween traditions are going ahead as normal, with a few additions and modifications.

Starting at 1 p.m. Oct. 31 a coven of choreographed witches will be making the rounds in Sechelt, with eight stops to dance for physically-distanced spectators. It’s a tradition that began in 2018 after resident witches were inspired by a “witches dance” trend with origins in Europe.

Sunshine Coast Rotary Club is hosting a $15-per-ticket virtual Monster Bash dance party on Oct. 31 at 6 p.m., with proceeds going to the Chatelech Food Program to supply lunches to students who need it. Event information and tickets available on the Rotary Club Facebook Page:

People in Pender Harbour hoping to catch a glimpse of their own witch assembly will have a chance starting at 5:30 p.m. on Halloween eve. Witches will trade in broomsticks for paddles for a spooky glide across Garden Bay Lake. Organizers have asked people to respect physical-distancing protocols and not to crowd to watch the event.

Also on Oct. 30, Creeker kids will have a chance to attend a free costumed outdoor candy hunt from 3 to 5 p.m. at Roberts Creek Hall. A movie will be displayed, professional photography will be available for those who register and COVID-19 protocols will be strictly followed. Book a photo slot here:

In Halfmoon Bay, the Lohn/Hart trail in Welcome Woods will be lit up with jack-o-lanterns provided by the community, starting at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 31.

The south Coast is also taking advantage of outdoor gathering from Oct. 29 to 31. At Gibsons Heritage Farm in Area E, tickets are available for an “immersive outdoor experience,” created and directed by local talent Varya Rubin and William Moysey, with guided tours of a five-acre property where fire spinners, eerie atmospherics and scenes from Macbeth are set to enthral socially-distanced attendees. Tickets available at

As for trick-or-treating, normally children from across the Sunshine Coast flock to the Mossy Rock subdivision in Roberts Creek, famous for its over-the-top decorations and “Chainsaw Guy.” This year, festivities will be “much more subdued,” according to resident Jason Dugal, who’s transformed his lawn into a graveyard for the past nine Halloweens. To stick to Dr. Henry’s advice, this year’s design includes a directional walkway, “spooky” social distance signs and a six-foot sloped “creepy candy” tube to deliver pre-packaged treats at a distance. “We know there won’t be as many kids this year but we’ll still prepare the same,” Dugal told Coast Reporter. “We definitely plan to make it up to the loyal Mossy Rock crowd when this is behind us.”

More Halloween health advice can be found here: