Spooky, scary safety: How to stay safe this Halloween, according to public health experts

With Halloween upon us, we’re all busy trying to figure out what our costumes are going to be this year. However, COVID-19 hasn’t left the building yet, despite the fact that the provincial restrictions in BC have been eased.

Whether you’re planning on attending The Calendar’s Halloween party or celebrating in your own home, here’s your guide to enjoying Halloween safely this year.

Follow BC’s gathering guidelines

BC’s Restart Plan has been in its third stage since the beginning of July 2021. Provincial gathering restrictions are generally fairly loose, unless additional regional restrictions are in place.

Indoor gatherings were previously allowed to have 50 people, or 50 per cent capacity, whichever one is greater. However, as of October 25, capacity limits have been lifted for the indoor events where proof of double vaccination is mandatory.

Capacity limits will still be in effect where regional orders are in place, including Fraser East and parts of Northern and Interior Health regions.

As for outdoor restrictions, seated gatherings can now have 5,000 people, or 50 per cent capacity, whichever one is greater. UBC, among other institutions and public places in BC, requires the use of a non-surgical mask while in public indoor spaces on campus or in residence.

Ensure everyone is vaccinated

Dr. Matthew Chow, president of Doctors of BC and a professor in the department of psychiatry at UBC, recommended that people only celebrate with people who are also vaccinated.

“If you’re going to be out at a party, in a closed confined space … only do so with other people that are vaccinated,” he said.

Chow said that people who will be gathering indoors on Halloween are at a slightly higher risk of contracting COVID-19, compared to people who will be gathering outdoors.

“People who are together in tight groups indoors, in areas with poor ventilation, especially among unvaccinated individuals, are at a much higher risk of acquiring COVID-19,” he explained.

Chow also suggested making sure that everyone who attends the event you’re attending is vaccinated.

“There’s gonna be hundreds of people at a party and you have no idea whether people are vaccinated or not. That’s not something that I personally want to go to on Halloween night during the fourth wave of the pandemic,” he said.

One way to check the vaccination status of attendees upon arrival is through the BC Vaccine Card Verifier App. This app has been developed by the province of BC, and is usually used in offices and restaurants by scanning the QR code of the customer.

The app is free and it easily confirms whether people have been vaccinated or not.

Chow also added that making sure everyone is vaccinated before attending an event would be considered a “good act of citizenship.”

“For Halloween, I urge people to be careful, listen to the public health advice, get your vaccine, but at the same time, you can also have fun and there are ways to do it safely.”