“Halloween celebrations will need to be a little different this year due to COVID-19, and we are urging everyone in the community to play their part,” Dr. Jeremy McAnulty, executive director of NSW Health Protection, said.
NSW Health also asked those participating in a COVID-Safe Halloween to only trick or treat in a household group and maintain a 1.5-meter distance from other groups. They also remind people to sanitise their hands regularly.
If you are planning on offering treats for children, NSW Health asks that it should be a front-yard event, not a front-door event with no more than 20 people at your property at any one time.
Householders are also asked to provide treats in closed packaging rather than communal lolly bowls and where possible, consider other ways of distributing treats like hanging them up along the front fence.
Another suggestion has been to avoid people knocking on your door by putting up a sign saying: “We are home, but due to COVID-19, we are distancing. Please take one, happy Halloween.”
In Victoria, people were reminded that those over the age of 12 have to wear a mask and that Melbourne restrictions also stop people from entering a property, which includes the front yard.
This has created a perception that the United States is “taking over Australia,” he said, but noted that Australia has a long history of “borrowing” rituals from other countries, citing Valentines Day and St. Patricks Day as two such examples.
“We have a strong history of adopting all sorts of rituals from other countries and cultures, so why should Halloween be any different to any other element of culture that we borrow from others?” Harrison wrote.
“As human beings, we look for rituals, we look for community through the things we do, and as other community rituals and institutions such as churches or strong familial and neighbourhood linkages break down we look for ways to replace that,” he said.
Harrison noted that the grassroots tradition—children trick-or-treating, pumpkins being carved, and communities spending time together—can be achieved without buying into the commercialisation of the festival.