Published in El Pais, 3 November 2020.
This year we have all been celebrating holidays and birthdays a little differently, sometimes we have virtual dinners or just skip it entirely. We are told to keep events small but government officials hold their breath every time a holiday comes as they expect many to break the rules and thus see a surge in COVID cases. Unfortunately, in Canada they were right to worry as we saw a significant rise in cases following Independence Day and thanksgiving (unlike our neighbors to the south we celebrate in October) and they had no reason to believe Halloween would be any different. Of course, it is too early to tell if Halloween will be responsible for more outbreaks but if my experience is any indication we may be in for a bit of a surprise.
Trick or Treating in my city had not been banned but strongly discouraged by public health officials. If not being banned I thought many would still do it, but walking the streets I saw very few houses with decorations and the ones who did had many disappointed kids walking back from it saying “they are not answering their doors”. Most of the ones who did give out candy did so with a bowl out front instead of answering the door personally. My experience was far different from previous years with each house having decorations up and children running up and down the street to collect their candy.
It should come as no surprise that my encounters with costume goers was far and few. Hardly any children were trick or treating as there was hardly any candy to be had. An important observation was that hardly anyone trick or treating were wearing masks but since they are only mandatory inside that did not come as a surprise. Adults wearing costumes was a rare site as well. Normally on the night of Halloween you would see young and old dressed up in costume to head to a Halloween party, but with a $10,000 fine for hosting such an event it seemed few were willing to take the risk.
In short, I found my experience this Halloween a pleasant surprise as I worried many experiencing quarantine fatigue would risk it but it seems that we are starting to get the message. With more holidays coming up, mainly Christmas, time will tell if we continue to behave but hopefully this trend will continue and we will see the cases go down.