By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health is all for treats, not tricks, on Halloween.
So long as residents follow public health guidelines – no parties and only socially distanced interactions – there’s no reason for COVID-19 to spook your plans for Oct. 31.
“We are discouraging parties and gatherings this year for obvious reasons,” Dr. David Colby said. “Halloween is going to happen, but outdoor trick-or-treating can certainly be safe as long as kids from one household stick together with adult supervision.”
Colby’s recommendations come after Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top doctor, said that Halloween 2020 was all about “finding a balance” between safety and some welcomed fun, leaving it up to local health units to decide how best to proceed.
The fall season comes with many celebrations, but also raising cases. In Ontario, some health units such as the Ottawa and the Eastern Public Health Units announced that all Halloween events must be cancelled.
Chatham-Kent remains a low prevalence community.
However, Colby is still urging caution as the situation can change at a moment’s notice.
“We don’t encourage violation of the physical distancing rules for people outside of the household. So collecting candy is probably best done outdoors rather than indoors, because the risks are lower.”
Halloween masks aren’t proper facial coverings, so cloth masks must still be worn, according to Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.
Overall Colby said this should be a fun time for everybody.
“We all deserve a break.”
Assessment Centre has new booking system
With the festive season comes a lot of movement and a lot of people wanting to get tested for COVID-19.
For the Chatham-Kent testing centre, recently relocated to the St. Clair College HealthPlex, that means a fair number of cancellations.
The latest seven-day average has seen 109 residents tested per day at the assessment centre, according to Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.
“At this stage, we do have right now about a four-day wait for testing, but we are implementing our new online booking system,” she said.
The new system went into effect last week and now allows for individuals to cancel their appointments online.
“Whereas currently, people aren’t able to cancel online, but we are seeing a fair degree of no show people who maybe originally booked online and then either things have changed for them or they’ve gone somewhere else,” she said.
Approximately 60 per cent of people being tested are asymptomatic but require a test to visit family in long-term care or for pre-surgical bookings.