Friday, 4 Dec 2020

Coronavirus: What you can and can’t do this Halloween

Coronavirus means Halloween will be very different across the UK this year.

Here’s our guide to what you can and can’t do and where you can do it – much depends on where you live.

  • England

Trick-or-treating is off-limits to anyone living under Tier 3 restrictions, which limit meetings in outdoor private spaces, including front gardens.

If you’re in a Tier 1 area, you can trick-or-treat under the rule of six, meaning if you go and knock on someone’s door, you can’t go in if there are more than six people.

Under Tier 2, you can’t socialise inside somebody’s home, so you’d have to stand outside in order to trick-or-treat.

The prime minister’s official spokesman this week urged people to use their common sense.

  • Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is in a four-week national lockdown, so indoor parties are out.

Apple-bobbing is also banned, according to Dr Gerry Waldron, head of health protection at the Public Health Agency (PHA).

He said: “We do not advise the tradition of bobbing for apples this year or going outside to trick-or-treat within the community. These are not safe practices this year (because) they increase the risk.

“Sharing of food and sweets can also spread the COVID-19 virus. Face-to-face interactions with older and vulnerable neighbours could put them at risk.”

  • Scotland

The official advice is to only celebrate with members of your own household this year, as households have been banned from mixing with a new set of guidelines set to be introduced on Monday.

There are additional measures in the central belt of Scotland, including the closure of pubs and restaurants.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney urged people to avoid activities “that make the spread of the virus more likely”.

Guising, a Scottish form of trick-or-treating, in which children have to recite a song, poem or joke before being rewarded, falls into that category, he said.

“Going door to door, passing sweets, touching items others have touched, all of that gives the opportunity for COVID to spread.

“So this Halloween our advice is you should stay at home… Don’t take risks for the sake of one night, it is really not worth it.”

  • Wales

Coming in the middle of a 17-day lockdown, Halloween will look very different in Wales this year.

Meeting people from other households, either indoors or outdoors, is not allowed. So, no parties and no trick-or-treating.

People are only allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons, including for exercise, to obtain essential supplies, to provide care or medicine and to attend schools that reopen after half-term.

A government spokesman said: “We are asking people to stay home during the firebreak period to slow the spread of coronavirus and help save lives”.

Public Health Wales has asked people to “not take part in traditional trick-or-treating which can put yourself and others at risk and breaches current guidelines which could incur a fine”.

  • What else can I do?

Pumpkin picking is still on this year, provided social distancing is maintained.

Pubs may be open, depending on the area you live in, and while some of the big annual Halloween events have been cancelled, including the annual Paisley Halloween Festival, many will go ahead – but with COVID-secure measures in place.

Homeowners can help make trick-or-treating safer by leaving sweets on the doorstep and children by avoiding the homes of the elderly or unwell.

There is widespread acceptance that apple-bobbing is a bad idea during the pandemic wherever you live.

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