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A sign indicating that Halloween is cancelled this year on Principale Street in Casselman. Photo: Sylvain Lauwers.

Casselman cancels Halloween, health unit advises against trick-or-treating

Casselman will be a town without Halloween this year.

On October 13, the municipal council decided that trick-or-treating would be canceled within the municipality on October 31 due to the risks related to COVID-19.  The fire department, which normally does a safety patrol on Halloween, will not be making the rounds this year either.

Casselman Mayor Daniel Lafleur said that council’s support for the motion was unanimous.  He said the decision was made to protect elderly people and children.

According to Lafleur, issues that council was uncertain if adults and children would maintain proper physical distancing and if children would be wearing protective masks in addition to costume masks.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Casselman has been low.  Lafleur said that the municipality wants to make sure it stays that way.

He said that the municipality is not responsible if there is trick-or-treating happening in Casselman on October 31, but he would prefer if people abided by council’s decision.

“Respect the regulation that we have in place,” said Lafleur.

Health unit recommends against trick-or-treating

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is recommending that residents of Prescott and Russell and Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry counties not trick-or-treat at all this Halloween due to the increasing amount of cases, and has stated that Halloween parties are completely out of the question.

“It’s not going to be the same Halloween as usual,” EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said on October 16.

The EOHU is recommending alternative ways of celebrating this Halloween.  It is recommending against traditional community or municipal Halloween events where many people gather. The EOHU’s recommendations for Halloween celebrations are:

  • Do not host or attend any in-person Halloween parties or gatherings with individuals outside of your immediate household.
  • Launch a virtual competition with your neighbors for the best outdoor Halloween decorations.
  • Organize a virtual costume party online with friends.
  • Watch a scary movie with the people you live with or your chosen social support person(s) if you live alone.
  • Plan a special evening looking at the full moon. The last time there was one on October 31 was 2001.
  • Have an at-home candy treasure hunt for your children.
  • Eat a fun and spooky meal.
  • Carve a pumpkin.
  • Enjoy some other fall activities that day and evening.

If people do choose to trick-or treat, they should follow a series of measures so it can be done more safely.

  • Choose a costume that allows you/your child to wear a non-medical mask. A costume mask is not a substitute.
  • Only trick-or-treat outside in your own community, with members of your direct household, and keep at least a 2-metre distance from others.
  • Where possible, knock instead of pushing doorbells, or keep 2 metres from the door or porch and call “trick or treat”.
  • Bring hand sanitizer, and use it before handling candy, or after touching high-touch surfaces like doorbells, doors, or railings.
  • If you are handing out treats, keep at least a 2-metre distance from trick-or-treaters and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer. Make candy bundles/bags using prepackaged, not homemade candy. Space them out on a table or blanket outside for trick-or-treaters to take or find other creative ways to hand out treats while maintaining a safe distance.  Finally, if you or your children are sick or self-isolating, do not go out trick-or-treating and do not hand out treats.

Other municipalities

The mayors of other Prescott and Russell municipalities were waiting for directions from the EOHU on how Halloween should be celebrated this year.

Champlain Township Mayor Normand Riopel said Halloween had not yet been discussed by council.  He said that the township is awaiting guidelines from the EOHU.

Hawkesbury Mayor Paula Assaly said that the town is also awaiting directives from the health unit.

La Nation Mayor François St-Amour also said there had been no discussion by council on the status of Halloween in the municipality.  He did note that the St-Isidore firefighters will not be making their usual Halloween security patrol in the village this year.

Alfred and Plantagenet Mayor Stéphane Sarrazin said that he does not think deciding on if Halloween festivities should be cancelled is up to the municipality, and that it is the responsibility of the health unit.  However, he did say that council will be discussing the issue.

Event still planned

However, as of October 19, the Dunvegan Recreation Association and Glengarry Pioneer Museum are still planning to hold their by-appointment only Spooktacular Halloween Scavenger Hunt.  It takes place on October 31 from noon until 4 p.m. at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan.  To reserve, go to the museum’s Facebook page or call 613-525-9664 or 613-987-7151.  The event has been organized using advice and guidance from the EOHU.

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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