NSW Health Approves a Happy COVID-Safe Halloween

NSW Health Approves a Happy COVID-Safe Halloween
Halloween pumpkins (Shutterstock*)
NSW Health has given his approval for Halloween celebrations to occur ahead of the celebration on Saturday as long as the levels of community transmission of the CCP virus remain low.

“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.

According to NSW Health, people planning on celebrating Halloween should only go out if they have no symptoms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as coronavirus. Those with symptoms are asked to stay home and get tested.

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.

Traditionally, a celebration from Ireland and Scotland that commemorates the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sawan), Halloween has been celebrated in Victoria as far back as 1864 among Irish and Scottish communities. More recently, the festival has grown in popularity in Australia, despite much debate, as people choose to adopt the European and American tradition.
Deakin Business School researcher and consumer behaviour expert Dr .Paul Harrison noted, in Deakin University’s online magazine This, that although there has been much debate over the adoption of the tradition, he believes that is because there are negative connotations around the commercialisation of the holiday by retail stores in the United States.

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.

Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.
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