WINCHESTER - Parents can breathe a little easier, because Halloween in Winchester hasn’t been cancelled. Contrary to some Facebook posts claiming the demise of the spookiest holiday on the calendar, the Select Board assured residents last night no one had pulled the plug on it.
In fact, Health Director Jenn Murphy said trick-or-treating can still go on as scheduled (though with some minor modifications). With the help of Select Board member Amy Shapiro (and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Murphy and the board outlined ways children could safely trick-or-treat this season.
“We need to give kids some normalcy,” Shapiro argued, “and we can do it safely.”
For those homeowners not comfortable partaking in trick-or-treating, Shapiro said they could “opt-out” by simply shutting off their lights. For everyone else, expect a gaggle of children to show up at your door on Halloween evening/night.
Shapiro’s pan showed a structured approach whereby children went out grouped by age, i.e. very young children, six and under, would trick-or-treat from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m., those between the ages of 7 - 12 would trick-or-treat from 6:30 - 7:45 p.m. and those 13 and older would trick-or-treat from 8: - 8:45 p.m.
She also said not to allow anyone 15 and older to participate, but later changed her mind after Select Board member Mariano Goluboff suggested the board didn’t have the authority to stop anyone from trick-or-treating. Instead, Shapiro suggested that those over the age of 15 not trick-or-treat, but left the decision up to the teens and their parents.
To avoid breaking social distancing rules, Shapiro proposed households leave candy on a driveway table for the children to grab. Of course, depending on how well the children follow rules (for instance, one candy bar per child) the candy could run out rather quickly.
Shapiro’s plan also called for every child to wear a mask and to not go out in groups of more than six people. Children should also wait for the group in front of them to leave the driveway/porch/house before taking their turn.
Finally, she proposed creating routes for the flats, which she called a popular destination.
“It’s critical to give kids some fun this fall,” she stressed, adding how the winter months will force children back inside.
The board appreciated Shapiro’s plan and said they should work with the Board of Health to make trick-or-treating possible and safe this season. Murphy said she would get this guidance out to the public.
With Halloween on a Saturday, Select Board Chair Michael Bettencourt felt there could be more social events, so residents need to remember the coronavirus hasn’t gone away and to take the appropriate safety measures (avoid large gatherings, wear a mask and stay six feet apart whenever possible).
Murphy also spoke about the upcoming flu clinics at the Jenks Center including one tomorrow for seniors. It is by appointment only and has already been filled.
There are two community clinics, as well: Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Thursday, Nov. 5, both by appointment only (and both open to seniors who missed out on the senior flu clinic). Murphy is asking residents to sign up two weeks in advance via the town website (www.winchester.us).
She aded how the Board of Health already immunized homebound seniors and those living in public housing. The town has also started in school flu clinics with the flu vaccine mandatory this year thanks to an edict by Governor Charlie Baker (although some parents protested against it).