Halloween effectively cancelled in Tier 3 as ‘trick or treating’ is banned

Steve Bird
·4-min read
© Licensed to London News Pictures 23/10/2020. Sheffield , UK. Revellers in Halloween costumes enjoy a night out in Sheffield city centre before new restrictions come into force in South Yorkshire. The county of South Yorkshire will enter into Tier 3 ,from 00:01 am on Saturday 24 October. New restrictions will cover Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncasterand Rotherham. Photo credit: Ioannis Alexopoulos/LNP - Ioannis Alexopoulos/LNP
© Licensed to London News Pictures 23/10/2020. Sheffield , UK. Revellers in Halloween costumes enjoy a night out in Sheffield city centre before new restrictions come into force in South Yorkshire. The county of South Yorkshire will enter into Tier 3 ,from 00:01 am on Saturday 24 October. New restrictions will cover Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncasterand Rotherham. Photo credit: Ioannis Alexopoulos/LNP - Ioannis Alexopoulos/LNP

Halloween has been effectively cancelled across huge swathes of the country thanks to Tier 3 rules banning ‘trick or treating’, and advice from police telling people not even to put sweets outside.

Millions of youngsters living under Tier 3 lockdowns will not be allowed to go knocking door-to-door and police patrols are expected to be stepped-up on the night of October 31.

Although those living in Tier 2 and below can go out if in groups of up to six from the same household, many councils and police chiefs are urging parents not to take their children outside in fancy dress next Saturday due to the risk of transmitting Covid 19.

Those caught breaching lockdown rules face up to £200 fines, potentially rising to £3,200 for repeat offenders.

Downing Street has insisted the rules were “clear” and so must be followed. Nicola Sturgeon is expected to issue official guidance for Halloween in the coming days.

Lancashire Police issued a statement urging residents under its Tier 3 regulations not to put sweets out on doorsteps for youngsters.

“Traditional trick or treating isn’t allowed as it means people from different households would be socialising and mixing,” a spokesman said.

“We’d urge people to follow the rules and if they do celebrate, make sure they are not inadvertently putting themselves on the wrong side of the law or spreading the virus. We’d recommend people don’t put communal sweets outside for children – the risk is they end up as germ magnets.”

Age UK has asked those allowed to trick or treat to be considerate of elderly people who may be shielding to protect themselves.

A ghost sign has been created by a global public health organisation so vulnerable people can ward off visitors by placing the symbol in their window.

Rob Chester, the UK boss of NSF International, said while he was not telling people to “boycott Halloween… Covid 19 won’t be taking a day off on the 31 October”.

“For the sake of our nation’s health, that means taking a year off from trick or treating. We hope that displaying a ghost in the window will help to ward off unwelcome visitors and keep the Covid-19 transmission risk down.”

Dr Simon Clarke, associate prof of cellular biology at the University of Reading, said although there is little risk in opening the door to half a dozen children, sweets and treats could present a threat.

“If sweets and treats given by an unbeknown infected household are taken home by kids, that presents a risk, particularly if they live with someone with heightened risk,” he said. “It’s probably an activity best avoided this year. Stick to some apple-bobbing at home.”

Sally Bloomfield, honorary prof of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it was “impossible to say what the precise impact of trick or treat might be” but taken together with bonfire night and “ongoing infringements in social distancing” increased levels of infection could lead to another full lockdown.

Concerns that basic freedoms are being eroded were compounded when it emerged that millions of people are being secretly monitored.

More than 360 cameras originally used to monitor traffic are now being used in 16 cities to try to establish how closely pedestrians are getting to one another.

Innovate UK, a public body funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis), organised a £50,000 deal with artificial intelligence company Vivacity Labs to collect data on social distancing.

A spokesman for Vivacity Labs said the cameras where sensors were fitted were not CCTV, did not record or store footage, but did capture anonymous data about “travel, trends and pathways ... to help councils and transport authorities improve infrastructure”.

Edin Omanovic, of Privacy International, a charity campaigning against technology being used to exploit people’s rights, told the Daily Mail: 'If we can't even walk in public without a tech company trying to profit from us or a government agency knowing about it we're heading to a truly dark place.”

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative MP, said the country was descending into “collective hysteria”.

Meanwhile in Wales, where a “firebreak” lockdown has been introduced with pubs and restaurants, shoppers have been banned from buying “non-essential” items such as socks, toasters, candles, bedding towels and stationery.

Extra police patrols were also introduced on the English and Welsh borders to try to catch any half-term holiday makers making non-essential trips during the ‘circuit-breaker lockdown.