Wondering how COVID-19 may impact Thanksgiving or Halloween this year? The Manitoba government has issued some suggestions for how to have the holidays with minimal risk.
New safety guidelines for the holidays were issued Oct. 2.
Anyone with possible COVID-19 symptoms, even if they’re mild, is asked to stay home or away from others. Everyone else is asked to wash or sanitize their hands often, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, to socially distance from people outside the household and to wear a non-medical mask in indoor spaces where distancing is not possible.
Families are urged to keep Thanksgiving gatherings as small as possible and to avoid contact with people outside their own households or closed-in, crowded spaces when possible. People from the same household won’t need to socially distance.
“For those considering family, workplace or social celebrations, this fall it is recommended to limit holiday gatherings to household members, reduce your number of close contacts and limit the number of gatherings you attend to stop the spread of COVID-19,” read the guidelines.
Officials have asked people to avoid close gestures like handshakes, hugging or kissing. People with preexisting conditions that may put them at higher risk of complications if they get COVID-19 are asked to stay home or to not attend large events.
For people hosting events, the government has advised the host to keep a list of attendees for three weeks - that way, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing can be done much quicker.
At the turkey table, sharing utensils or condiments is a strict no-no, with hand washing and frequent cleaning of surfaces or personal items recommended. Also suggested: having one person designated to dish out servings, therefore avoiding possible cross-contamination.
On Oct. 31, trick-or-treating is encouraged - as long as it is done safely.
In addition to other traditional Halloween advice - accompany kids and small family members, avoid darting out into traffic and so on - the province has advised people to follow new rules for tricks and treats.
Once again, anyone showing possible COVID-19 symptoms is asked to stay home. Wash and sanitize hands often and be aware of any local alerts or possible exposure sites.
When it comes to masks, the province has advised that non-costume masks should be worn in any setting where social distancing can’t be reliably kept. Wearing a costume mask on top of a non-medical mask may not be safe, but officials say if a non-medical mask can be incorporated into a costume without obstructing vision, that will work fine. People distributing candy are asked to mask up and, if possible, use implements like tongs to give out candy, making the transfer contactless. Providing individual candy bags and avoiding self-serve practices, like holding out a communal candy bowl, are also encouraged. Indoor trick-or-treating events are okay, as long as all public health orders and social distancing rules are followed.