Top doc in eastern Ontario already thinking about Halloween

People go trick-or-treating at a decorated home in the Glebe neighbourhood in Ottawa on Halloween, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016 in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Students are returning to classrooms across Ontario and the medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is already thinking ahead to Halloween.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's "Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts" Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said it's too soon to say whether Halloween should be cancelled, but he is already keeping an eye on it.

"I don't know where we're going to be. We're in a better place this year than we were last year, so I'm not prepared to cancel Halloween at this point," he said.

Last year, both Ottawa Public Health and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit recommended against trick-or-treating because of the pandemic, though many other health units in the region kept the tradition alive.

Trick-or-treaters are typically of an age that is ineligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, but Roumeliotis noted that it’s also a largely outdoor activity.

"Outdoor settings are much safer than indoor settings. With the proper precautions, you might be able to get away with it," he said.

Roumeliotis stressed that it's still too soon to say whether case counts will rise to a level where trick-or-treating is not recommended, but he also said he does not want to cancel one of the biggest nights of the year for kids.

"Cancelling it two years in a row would be a real morale breaker. I'm optimistic, let's put it this way. I'm optimistic because I think that kids need it," he said. "We want to do as much as possible to render a more normal activity both in school and outside of school."

He said he'd wait until about two weeks before Halloween to make any decisions.

"It's really hard for us to predict. We know that we're going to get increased cases, just because people are more closed in now, but we need to balance the morale of these kids and their mental health with the risk of COVID," he said. "This year, the people around them, for the most part, will be vaccinated."