Halloween Guidelines Released for the NWT

News Releases

Yellowknife — October 8, 2020

Trick-or-treating is on this year and the Government of the Northwest Territories has released guidelines on how to celebrate safely.

The guidelines provide “must-do’s” based on continued public health orders in the territory; things to avoid; and best practices to stay safe for trick-or-treaters and treat-givers.


Key guidance on trick-or-treating includes:

·       Trick-or-treat in outdoor spaces as much as possible.

·       Wash your hands often. This is especially important:

o   before and after handling your non-medical mask or face covering;

o   after touching frequently touched surfaces (i.e., door bells);

o   when you arrive home from trick-or-treating; and

o   before and after handling or eating treats.

  • Keep your trick-or-treating partners to your household and Friendship Circle – the five people you like to spend time with most.  
  • Keep interactions brief at homes when getting treats.
  • When approaching houses, take turns one at a time at the door and stay six feet or two metres from others.

·       Keep mittens on the whole time you trick or treat. Once home, wash mittens and costumes. Wash your hands for 20 seconds. Do not touch your face with the mittens.

Haunted houses are challenging settings during a pandemic. This activity requires extra work as haunted houses are made for screaming – and screaming produces a lot of respiratory droplets. That comes with much greater risk than trick-or-treating.


Things to consider for haunted houses:

·       Holding outdoors is always best: If an open-air setting is possible, it will be safer

·       Allowing for physical distancing: try using glow-in-the-dark physical distancing markers on the floor/ground to keep people at-least two metres (six feet) apart. If it’s possible, it would be better to do four metres. Bigger spaces are always best.

·       Have a sign-in sheet: keep track of everyone who comes with contact information in case contact tracing is required.

·       Patrons, staff/volunteers use of non-medical masks: requiring non-medical masks will help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling a long distance.

·       You must control crowds: No more than 25 people can be indoors – and physical distancing must be maintained. Proprietors are responsible.

·       Hand-washing supplies are a must: Keep them on-site and stocked, and encourage guests to wash their hands frequently.

·       Have people go through by household wherever possible: Less mixing is always better.


Residents are reminded that anyone who is required to self-isolate for any reason will not be able to participate in:

·       Trick-or-treating

·       Treat-giving

·       Haunted houses

·       Gatherings of any kind


Full guidelines are available on the GNWT’s COVID-19 response website (link below), including a print-ready document.



“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time, especially when it has created barriers to social interaction, particularly for young people in the NWT. Being able to celebrate Halloween is important for our territory’s social and mental well-being. While Halloween will look a little bit different this year, I know our territory is resilient and creative and I look forward to seeing how families, friends, and especially kids bring that creativity to life, while keeping each other safe during our first pandemic Halloween.”

- Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services 


Quick facts

·       Trick-or-treating done outside is a generally low-risk activity so long as the right precautions are taken.

·       If any plans require gathering limits under Emerging Wisely to be exceeded, a plan to mitigate risk must be submitted to Protect NWT for approval by the Chief Public Health Officer.

·       Gatherings where many different people mix are a significant source of recent outbreaks across Canada. The Halloween guidelines are designed to help limit these risks – but there will never be no risk.

Related links

·       Halloween Guidelines for the Northwest Territories (Print-ready guidelines available)

·       Exemptions for businesses, organizations, and activities

·       Application to vary from public health order requirements


Media contact:

Mike Westwick

Manager, COVID-19 Communications

Health and Social Services

COVID Coordinating Secretariat

Government of the Northwest Territories