‘It’s not sensible in a pandemic’: cancel Halloween, officials advise

It is one of the hot topics on Mumsnet: is Halloween cancelled? And, to the dismay of sugar-addicted children everywhere, the answer appears to be an overwhelming “yes”.

New restrictions on social gatherings, amid evidence that Covid-19 is on the rise, seem to have brought an end to house-to-house visits this All Hallows’ Eve. As one poster on the parenting forum explained: “I don’t think allowing lots of little hands to rummage through sweets would be a good idea.”

Compounding the disappointment is the fact that this year Halloween falls on a Saturday, which would have given parents and their offspring the entire Sunday to recover.

Communicating the fact that Halloween has been cancelled does not appear to be something many parents are relishing. “Kids have already had Easter taken away, it’s not fair for Halloween to not happen either,” one Mumsnet poster complained.

Others worry that the cancellation of Halloween is part of a wider trend. As another Mumsnet contributor sighed: “No Halloween, no bonfire night and no Christmas, [it’s] very worrying in terms of how we manage going forward. Humans are meant to come together – long-term social distancing doesn’t seem sustainable!”

The end of trick or treating is also bad news for retailers. Last year, Britons spent more than £400m on Halloween. But charities working with older people have urged parents and children to think carefully about continuing the tradition this year.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, told the East Anglian Daily Times that many older people have concerns about returning to any form of normality, “which includes answering the door to trick or treaters”. She added: “We hope everybody follows the government guidelines. If visiting doorsteps, be sure to step back after knocking, so you are around two metres away from the person when they answer the door, and make sure everybody handwashes before and after eating and handling treats.”

A number of Halloween festivals in Scotland, including in Paisley and Fife, have already been cancelled, with scores of others across the UK likely to follow suit. There is also growing concern that many Christmas markets will go the same way.

People shop for Halloween items at a home improvement store in Alhambra, California.
People shop for Halloween items at a DIY store in Alhambra, California. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty

Not everyone, though, is taking the cancellation of Halloween lying down. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has had to revise its Halloween guidance. Having banned door-to-door trick or treating, the agency was forced into a climbdown after a public backlash. Now it is simply recommending that the activity is dropped for this year.

Dr Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, explained: “It’s just not sensible in a pandemic.”

Others are taking a more pragmatic view. As one Mumsnet contributor observed: “Halloween will be different, that’s for sure. Maybe it could be more like a scarecrow festival, the house decorations could be admired from afar.”

The Guardian

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