KITCHENER -- With Thanksgiving behind us, Waterloo Region's top doctor is offering up some advice for the season's spookiest celebration.

Halloween is approaching, and after a lead-up to Thanksgiving that saw officials pleading for people not to gather indoors, the advice is similar.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang recommended that families stick to their households whenever possible, and otherwise to only engage in low-risk activities.

"Things could change between now and Halloween, I may make stronger recommendations, but at this time I'm asking people to consider lower-risk activities only," she said.

"If they choose to participate in things like trick-or-treating, there's advice that we've given in public health to reduce the risk as much as possible if they choose to go out and do that."

She offered some alternative ways to celebrate this season, including the following:

  • Pumpkin decorating
  • Virtual costume party
  • Halloween movie night
  • Sharing scary stories
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Virtual gatherings with people outside your household

If you choose to spend Halloween with those outside of your household, Dr. Wang recommended taking some precautions.

"Regardless of the legal limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, you should keep your gathering as small as possible," she said.

"Use outdoor spaces as much as possible. Gathering outdoors is safer than indoors and the fewer the people, the lower the risk."

She also recommended the following steps:

  • Stay home if you feel sick, even if your symptoms are mild or you recently had a negative test
  • Use outdoor spaces as much as possible
  • Keep gatherings as small as possible

For trick-or-treating, some cities are putting into place some unique events.

In Stratford for example, the city is hosting a drive-thru trick-or-treating event so revelers can collect candy while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

If you decide to trick-or-treat in your neighbourhood, Dr. Wang recommended the following:

  • Only trick-or-treat with those in your immediate family
  • Ensure you maintain physical distancing with anyone else
  • Wear a mask (not a costume mask) and don't layer masks (i.e. costume mask on top of non-medical mask, or vice versa)
  • Don't congregate at front doors
  • Have kids line up two metres apart if they're waiting

Masks should be worn by trick-or-treaters and those handing out candy alike, and people giving out treats should use tongs to do so rather than leaving treats in bowls for kids to help themselves.