With Thanksgiving and Halloween just around the corner, the Ontario government has released some official guidelines to help you plan your get-togethers safely. Unlike last year, indoor gatherings and trick-or-treating are officially back on this month. But, seeing as we’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID-19, there are still rules in place to help reduce the risk.

Firstly, those attending gatherings where everyone is fully vaccinated is pretty much in the clear to take of their mask indoors if they want to, according to Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore. If that’s not the case, guests should still mask up indoors and, if social distancing can’t be maintained, outdoors too.

The province is sticking to its Step 3 gathering limits as well, allowing a maximum of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. However, Dr. Moore says to stick to the smallest number of people as possible anyway. Most importantly, anyone who is experiencing even the mildest symptoms must stay home.

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Here is the government’s official guidance for Thanksgiving parties, which Dr. Moore says applies to Halloween parties too.

  • do not exceed the gathering limit of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
  • have the fewest number of people possible at your gathering
  • use outdoor spaces whenever possible
  • provide all the necessary supplies, including hand sanitizer, soap and water
  • open windows, if possible
  • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • ask guests not to attend if they have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • make a list of guests attending in case your local public health unit needs it for contact tracing
  • remind people of public health advice to follow during the event
  • wash your hands before and frequently when preparing and serving food
  • have everyone wash their hands before and after eating

As for trick-or-treating, Ontario has released a laundry list of dos and don’ts. Building a face covering or mask into your costume is encouraged, but doesn’t replace a real one. However, don’t wear both at the same time, because that could make it hard to breathe.

If you’re taking kids door-to-door, make sure the interactions are short and that they get their candy one at a time so doorsteps don’t become crowded. Singing and shouting for treats is a no-no, and using sanitizer frequently is a good idea. But, health officials say you don’t need to disinfect every candy before unwrapping it.

The guidelines are similar for those giving out candy at home. Keep the interactions short and consider wearing a mask if you can’t maintain social distancing, or adding one to your costume.

While they may not look entirely like our pre-COVID get-togethers, it feels pretty darn good to get our holidays back.