How Manitobans should celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween, according to health officials
This Oct. 14, 2016, photo shows some of the food from a Thanksgiving dinner from Martha & Marley Spoon in New York. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Bree Fowler
WINNIPEG -- As part of the province's daily COVID-19 news bulletin on Friday, health officials also announced guidelines for Manitobans who are looking to celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween.
For both events, officials continue to send the same message since the start of the pandemic: stay home if you are sick, wash your hands, practice physical distancing, and wear a mask in public places when physical distancing isn't possible or if required by public health orders.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, on Monday, Oct. 12. Health officials understand people want to gather to celebrate and share the holidays together, but they suggest Manitobans limit who gathers.
"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 gathering you attend to stop the spread of COVID-19," the province said on its website.
Officials are also advising that people minimize workplace and other social celebrations and that people should plan for outdoor events.
It also advised that hosts maintain a list of people who attended for 21 days to ensure proper health follow-ups can take place if an attendee is exposed to COVID-19.
If Manitobans plan to sit around the table for Thanksgiving dinner, officials are suggesting that people don't share utensils, condiments, or other objects.
"Consider having one individual designated to serve guests food to reduce the sharing of utensils. Or, order individual portions from a restaurant or caterer."
It's also encouraged that high touch surfaces get cleaned frequently and that people should wash their hands before and after eating, and before and after handling food.
For some of the younger Manitobans, Halloween and trick-or-treating is the big focus this month, and the province has laid out several guidelines to have a safe Halloween.
People are being advised to stay home from getting candy if they feel unwell and if people start to feel unwell during the night, they should return home right away.
Officials are also encouraging people to incorporate masks into their costumes
If at all possible, officials are also asking people to consider alternatives to trick-or-treating to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
If Manitobans plan to hand out candy this year, they are being encouraged to use contactless candy distribution, such as tongs, and to wear masks.
"Provide individual bags and avoid self-service such as common candy bowls."
In terms of what candy to use, health officials suggest wrapped store-bought treats only.
As for other Halloween events, people are encouraged to plan activities that allow physical distancing.
"Avoid activities where respiratory droplets may be exchanged, such as bobbing for apples," the province said.
Pumpkin carving is viewed as good activity as long as people are distanced properly and individual pumpkins and tools are provided.
Costume parades with physical distancing are allowed as well as haunted houses, ghost tours, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches as long as current public health orders are followed.
Organizers of those events, however, are encouraged to follow or implement specific guidelines such as:
• Self-screening must be done by all organizers, staff, and attendees, whether it is through the online screening tool or COVID-19 screening questions. People must stay home if they are feeling unwell;
• Lineups must ensure physical distancing;
• Minimize time indoors as much as possible;
• Online booking is encouraged with timed arrivals as well as flexible cancellation policies;
• Contactless payment is encouraged;
• Masks are encouraged, especially indoors. Current guidelines must be followed;
• Employees in haunted houses and other venues must maintain physical distancing from guests;
• Stagger time for tours;
• Clean high volume touch areas and encourage hand hygiene; and
• Any food and beverage services, or other activities, must follow provincial guidelines.