NWT says Halloween is a go, gives safe trick-or-treating advice

Pumpkins carved by International Halloween Show participants
Pumpkins carved by participants in Cabin Radio's 2018 International Halloween Show. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

“Trick-or-treating is on this year,” the NWT government declared on Thursday, giving Halloween celebrations its blessing despite Covid-19 restrictions.

In a statement, the territory issued a series of instructions for people planning to head out on Halloween. Stay outdoors as much as possible and wash your hands often, the guidance stated.

Your trick-or-treating group should be your household and your friendship circle, the territory said, defining that circle as “the five people you like to spend time with most.”

The territory suggested people keep mittens on at all times while trick-or-treating, take turns one at a time when at the door of a house, and keep those interactions brief.



“Stay six feet from others,” the NWT government said.

“Once home, wash mittens and costumes. Wash your hands for 20 seconds. Do not touch your face with the mittens.”

If you’re isolating for any reason, the NWT warned, you can’t take part in Halloween festivities with others – meaning no trick-or-treating or haunted houses.

Haunted houses would be a “challenge,” the territory said, issuing a checklist of instructions for anyone thinking of setting up such an attraction.



“Haunted houses are made for screaming – and screaming produces a lot of respiratory droplets. That comes with much greater risk than trick-or-treating,” the advisory noted.

More: The NWT’s Halloween guidelines in full

“Being able to celebrate Halloween is important for our territory’s social and mental well-being,” said health minister Julie Green in a statement.

“While Halloween will look a little bit different this year, I know our territory is resilient and creative.

“I look forward to seeing how families, friends, and especially kids bring that creativity to life, while keeping each other safe during our first pandemic Halloween.”

Advice includes how to hand out candy

The NWT hasn’t had a confirmed Covid-19 case since April and has maintained a set of relatively strict pandemic public health measures, particularly those limiting travel.

Halloween had been one of the biggest questions on residents’ minds in the face of those restrictions, with some fearing October 31 – a much-cherished night of celebration in the NWT – would be effectively dismantled this year.

In issuing its guidelines, the territory in effect acknowledged any perception of “cancelling” Halloween might be a breaking point for some residents.



The territory’s advice includes entire sections on how to give out treats safely and how to trick-or-treat responsibly.

One piece of advice, for example, reads: “Only trick-or-treat at places that clearly signal that they’re participating. This includes porch lights on, a lit jack-o-lantern or decorations.

“People may not be participating for a lot of reasons. They may be sick, self-isolating, in a high-risk category, or just not interested.”

For people handing out candy, the territory said: “Wear a non-medical mask or face covering when physical distancing cannot be consistently maintained. If you’re dressing up, consider including it as part of your costume.

“Hand out purchased and pre-packaged treats. Consider creative ways to hand out treats by using a hockey stick, tongs, or a wrapping paper tube to create a slide.”

Avoid leaving treats in a communal bowl for kids to grab, the territory said, to prevent “many hands from touching the bucket at different times.”