West Country residents asked not to trick or treat this Halloween to avoid spread of coronavirus

People in the South West are being asked to celebrate Halloween differently this year. Credit: PA images

Don't turn Halloween into a "nightmare on your street" - that is the warning to people in the West Country as local leaders and emergency services ask them to ditch trick or treating.

Devon and Cornwall's council leaders have issued a plea for locals to enjoy the occasion "safely at home", avoid going out and prevent the risk of coronavirus transmission.

"There are plenty of ways to enjoy Halloween safely at home, from spooky window dressings to ghostly film nights", said a spokesperson from Devon County Council.

Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council, said: "This is definitely the year to bring back a more traditional celebration of Halloween. Everyone can have fun and do their bit to keep Cornwall safe if they stay at home. Anything we can do to keep infection rates relatively low in the South West will benefit all our communities."

Create a spooky Halloween window instead this year? Credit: PA images

Cornwall's Director of Public Health, Rachel Wigglesworth, insisted Halloween is "definitely not cancelled" but is backing the request that people stay at home to celebrate.

She said, "This year is a different year in all respects and following the rules around social distancing whilst supervising young ones out and about could make the evening potentially a horror story for all the wrong reasons. We are strongly advising that families do not go trick or treating."

Local health bosses and authority leaders are also joining up to remind people of the rule of six, which means parties cannot be held - even if they are indoors.

As a way around this, teenagers are being asked to make the most of technology for 2020 celebrations and host virtual parties or horror-themed quizzes instead.

Steve Brown, Deputy Director for Public Health Devon, said it is vital people follow the rules and make changes this year, even though the rates in the South West remain low.

He said: "We might have lower than average cases in Devon, but there really is unnecessary risk in celebrating the traditional way with trick or treating. Our advice, just don’t do it. Not this year."

People are being told to remember about the rule of six and not to hold parties.

Aside from coronavirus, the usual Halloween warnings have been issued to people in the West Country.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has reiterated its safety messages to people who plan on dressing up and decorating their homes.

The service has asked people to use battery operated tea lights instead of candles and to make sure all costumes comply with flammability standards. They should also come with a CE mark, which means they comply with European health and safety standards.

Darren Peters, Area Manager for the fire service in Devon and Somerset, said: "This Halloween we would like you to have fun at home and stay safe. Carved pumpkins are a fun way to celebrate, but always use battery-powered candles or tea lights in your pumpkins instead of a real flame which can easily set fire to clothing, curtains and sofas.

"When it comes to dressing up at Halloween, be aware that fancy dress is dangerous around fire - costumes can burn very easily. Keep fancy dress well away from open fires, wood burners, cooking and candles."

If you or someone else's costume does catch fire, follow these important tips:

  • STOP! Don't run - it will only make the fire worse. Protect your face.

  • DROP! Get down onto the floor.

  • ROLL! With your arms above your head, roll over and over to put out the flames.

Also remember to cool any burns with cold water immediately and call 999 to ask for the fire service if it is an emergency.

Make a treat in the kitchen this year.

Need some inspiration for Halloween at home this year?

  • Get creative in the kitchen - mummy sausages? spooky fingers? Search online for ideas

  • Virtual fancy dress party - invite your friends, family and get a scary playlist!

  • Virtual horror quiz - guess the horror movie theme tune? Don't forget the fancy dress

  • Wicked windows - get the whole community involved and see who can create the scariest window on your street

  • Have a movie marathon and dig out some terrifying films to enjoy on the sofa