Mississauga mayor supports province’s advice on trick-or-treating but says the ultimate decision lies with parents


Published October 22, 2020 at 7:41 pm


At an Oct. 21 press conference, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said that she supports the province’s recommendation that families avoid door-to-door trick-or-treating in Mississauga and other hotspot areas this Halloween. 

That said, she acknowledged that the choice of whether or not to trick-or-treat ultimately rests with parents. 

“I know that many parents and children were disappointed when the province announced that residents in hot spots, including Peel Region, should reconsider doing door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween. I’m truly sorry that you are being asked to celebrate differently this year, but it is the best way to keep our city healthy and safe and reduce the spread of the virus,” Crombie said. 

Earlier this week, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said that he is recommending that families in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and York (Markham, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Whitechurch-Stouffville, East Gwillimbury, Aurora, Georgina and King) avoid traditional trick-or-treating this year in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The announcement was met with significant backlash, with several high-profile medical professionals arguing that trick-or-treating, a low-contact outdoor activity, can be enjoyed safely in regions with higher-than-optimal case counts. 

“This….doesn’t sit right. The goal should be to find ways to do things safely rather than cancel,” Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases consultant and general internist at Toronto General Hospital, said on social media. 

“Halloween shouldn’t be too tough to do safely: Outside, wearing masks, restricted to family units, distant from others–is about as low-risk as it gets.” 

At an Oct. 22 council meeting, Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish also criticized the province’s advice, arguing that there have been considerable inconsistencies in its COVID-19-related safety recommendations. 

“[There’s a] lack of consistency on part of the premier. All those kids are jammed together in schools and now they say kids can’t stumble from one door to the other on their own street? There’s not a lot of consistent judgement being made on this, I’m not thrilled,” Parrish said.  

When asked at multiple press conferences why the province is recommending against trick-or-treating in modified Stage 2 regions, Premier Doug Ford and other officials suggested that trick-or-treating could lead to unintended crowding in doorways and on sidewalks, or perhaps lead to unplanned social gatherings. 

The Region of Peel offered the same justification on social media. 

“Peel Public Health and Ontario guidelines discourage door-to-door trick or treating. Trick or treating may be associated with other high-risk activities for spreading the virus, like gathering in groups, and close contact,” the region wrote on Twitter. 

The “slippery slope” argument hasn’t been echoed by other experts who argue that you can’t say classrooms are safe but physically-distanced outdoor activities are not. 

“…1. We will let 20+ kids be in an indoor classroom for hours on end, but we won’t let smaller groups be outdoors? 2. We will allow outdoor unmasked dining with adults, but we won’t allow kids moving around?,” wrote Andrew Morris, a physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, on Twitter. 

“3. We have been emphasizing the importance of distancing, masking, preferably outdoors, and avoiding congregation but we are not even allowing that? Yes, we are in a pandemic but PLEASE reconsider this [Doug Ford]!” 

At the press conference, Crombie encouraged families to follow the province’s advice and celebrate differently. 

“I know how much kids across Mississauga [are] looking forward to Halloween and I encourage parents to find creative ways to keep festivities exciting and safe for their children,” she said adding that families can “get spooky” by creating a household scavenger hunt, decorating, hosting an age-appropriate scary movie marathon or connecting with friends online. 

Since the province’s recommendation is not legally binding (meaning families who do choose to trick-or-treat and/or give out candy won’t be fined or otherwise penalized for participating), Crombie asked those who do choose to trick-or-treat to do so as safely as possible. 

“If you choose not to follow public health advice, I ask you to take extra precautions this year and only go out with members of your household and always trick-or-treat outside,” she said.

“Don’t congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two meters apart. Wash your hands often and thoroughly and use lots of hand sanitizer.” 

Crombie asked residents who plan to hand out candy to not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children and consider using tongs. 

“It goes without saying that you’ll be wearing your face-covering,” she said, echoing the province’s advice to wear a non-medical mask or face-covering while trick-or-treating or handing out candy (Williams said that costume masks do not count and that putting a regular cloth or surgical mask under a Halloween one can actually impede breathing).”

Crombie said that following advice now might ensure that future holidays aren’t quite so compromised. 

“I hope that by celebrating Halloween differently, we can once again join together to celebrate Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. At the end of the day, it is up to parents to make these decisions and make them in the best interest of their children and their health and their safety.” 

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