How to safely celebrate Halloween during Delta outbreak

Kendall Hutt
Source: 1News

The Ministry of Health is encouraging Aucklanders to stick to their bubbles this Halloween.

Lighted Halloween Pumpkin Jack o Lantern Wearing Covid PPE Mask On Steps

With the region now staying with eased Level 3 restrictions until November 1, the ministry says celebrations outside one’s bubble shouldn’t happen.

With traditional trick or treating effectively off the cards, the ministry suggests "Halloween fun" can be had with a themed treasure hunt around the house or backyard.

Individually wrapped treats are also a good idea, Deputy Director of Public Health Dr Harriette Carr told 1News.

An outdoor Halloween gathering in a park with another household was allowed as long as there are no more than 10 people involved, she said.

However, it is important to stay away from the fun if anyone is feeling unwell.

1News approached the ministry to see if it had any advice for Halloweeners after seeing some parents take to social media asking for fellow Aucklanders’ advice on trick or treating amid Covid-19 restrictions.

Some parents said they had made the tough decision to cancel Halloween this year.

Other commenters said they would put out lollies by their doors or driveways (in individual wrappers or in a lolly bag with hand sanitiser nearby), while others said they preferred to celebrate Halloween at home.

Others suggested walking or driving past houses with Halloween decorations up, with some saying they would create their own QR code posters for trick or treaters to scan.

Some halloweeners on Whenuapai’s Totara Rd said there would be decorations — and scares — for people to drive by and see from 6.30-8.30pm on October 31.

East Auckland mum Jaime Travis was one of these parents curious about Halloween in Auckland.

Travis, her daughters Baylee, 15, and Caysie, 6, and god daughter, Frankie, 5, usually dress up, go trick or treating and enjoy "scaring people" on Halloween.

"I'm determined to see these kids having an awesome Halloween," Travis told 1News.

"They deserve it, they need it, they will have it."

Travis and the girls were planning to scare one another with their costumes in the afternoon and then make slime and jack-o'-lanterns.

There would also be a treasure hunt around the block.

At night, there would be games for the girls to play, but Travis was keeping a lid on the details in order to surprise them.

"I think as long as anyone who decides to trick or treat or hand out lollies to trick or treaters stays safe and follows the rules, we can all have a pretty cool lockdown Halloween.

"Our kids are missing out on so much and it is possible to be safe and still have fun. Once in a while it's actually essential!"

Professor Lorna Piatti-Farnell, director of AUT’s popular culture research centre, told 1News: "Halloween can still be fun at Level 3, with just a little bit of imagination."

She said "adjustments" to traditional forms of trick or treating were in order, as giving out treats is not on the cards.

Instead of going door-to-door, Piatti-Farnell suggested a 'trick hunt' in one’s house or garden, with costumes still highly encouraged.

She said houses could still be decorated and households could still take a stroll around the neighbourhood to admire them, while sticking to the Level 3 restrictions.

In a piece for The Conversation last year , Piatti-Farnell suggested a Halloween treats hunt rather than trick or treating and a socially distanced Halloween walk to show off costumes to friends.

Halloween during coronavirus pandemic concept. Above view corner border with candy, face mask and hand sanitizer over a black background.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said Halloween could still be celebrated by Aucklanders if a "basic principle" was observed — don’t be indoors with those not in your household group.

While outdoors, masks should be worn and people should distance from those not in their bubble, he said.

In Wellington at Level 2, he said he would be putting out lollies for trick or treaters and his 11-year-old daughter would likely be in a 70s-inspired outfit for the occasion.

For those lucky enough to be in Level 2, trick or treating is on the cards, but "extra precautions" should be taken, Carr said.

Wearing a mask was recommended, along with social distancing and hand hygiene.

"Do not take part in Halloween events or activities if you are unwell," Carr said.

"If you are feeling unwell, do not host gatherings or invite trick or treaters into your home."

Carr also encouraged households taking part to put up their own QR code poster .

The epidemiologist spoke to Wendy Petrie about developments.

If people aren’t comfortable with trick or treaters coming onto their property, Carr said they could put a sign out.

Halloween gaining traction

Piatti-Farnell said Halloween had been gaining traction in the lives of many Kiwis in recent times and that some aspects of the American version of the holiday had "definitely" been incorporated in Aotearoa.

This had placed even more of a focus on community, decoration and fun activities for children, she explained.

Piatti-Farnell said the perception Halloween is an ‘American thing’ was not strictly correct, as Halloween has its roots in Europe, especially in the British Isles.

"Both the idea of trick-or-treating (traditionally known as 'guising') and carving vegetables (including gourds and turnips) into lanterns are very long-standing" she pointed out.

"While Halloween may not be to everyone's taste, it is a great occasion to come together and have a little bit of fun, for those who celebrate it."

Halloween in the US

In the US, Dr Anthony Fauci told CNN’s State of the Union recently: "I think that particularly if you’re vaccinated, but you can get out there, you’re outdoors for the most part ... and enjoy it.

"This is a time that children love, it’s a very important part of the year for children. If you’re not vaccinated, again, think about it, that you’ll add an extra degree of protection to yourself and your children and your family and your community.

"So it’s a good time to reflect on why it’s important to get vaccinated, but go out there and enjoy Halloween, as well as the other holidays that will be coming up."

Although it advised against the tradition last year, the CDC’s director Rochelle Walensky told CBS News’ Face the Nation last month children could go trick or treating in small groups this year.

The CDC said masks should be worn, people should physically distance themselves from people outside of their bubble and to bring hand sanitiser along.