Trick-or-treating will be allowed at some homes but not others in England as harsh new social distancing rules take the axe to Halloween.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman today said parents should use their “common sense” when deciding whether to take kids round the neighbourhood for sweets this Saturday.
Any trick-or-treating will fall under exactly the same rules as other social gatherings in Tier 1, 2 or 3, the spokesman said.
But that means some people will be allowed to trick-or-treat and some people will not due to the complex maze of lockdown rules, and how they apply to private property.
In Tier 3 areas, it appears homes that open straight onto the street will be legally allowed to help trick-or-treaters – while those with a front garden or block of flats will not.
People in Tier 3 will, however, be able to give kids sweets if the kids stay on the other side of the garden gate, it seems.
People in Tier 1 or 2 appear to be in the clear – as long as the kids don’t go inside the house.
But crucially, in all tiers, gatherings of more than six people at any one time will be banned.
No10 appeared to suggest the six-person limit includes both the people knocking on the door, and the people answering it.
That suggests families would have to make their trick-or-treating group smaller than six, to account for whoever answers the door.
Downing Street today stopped short of saying trick-or-treating will be banned on Saturday, despite the risk of infection and the ghoulish, mind-boggling rules.
Instead the PM’s spokesman said: “The rules are there for all circumstances and people will have to use their common sense in ensuring they’ve followed the rules.”
So what are the rules?
In the absence of clear government guidelines on trick-or-treating, here’s the best guess we could get from quizzing 10 Downing Street.
If you don’t know which Tier you are in, search below before getting started.
In Tier 3, it’s not allowed – most of the time
In Tier 3 (Very High alert) areas of England, you are banned from gathering with anyone who isn’t from your household or bubble, either indoors or in a private outdoor space.
That means any trick-or-treating indoors or in a private garden or block of flats is off-limits.
Asked the rules on trick-or-treating, a No10 spokesman said: “The rules are those which apply to household mixing in general.
“What that means in practice is that if you’re in a Very High Covid alert level, than you cannot mix with other households indoors or in private outdoor spaces.”
No10 suggested that ban would also apply on the doorstep – because gatherings are banned both inside the house, and in the front garden.
Asked if the ban applies to doorsteps, the spokesman replied: “I think the question there is around where does someone’s private property begin.”
But that response suggests people who live in a house that opens straight onto the street – for example, an old terraced house – are exempt from the ban.
It also suggests people are exempt if they host the trick-or-treaters on the other side of their garden gate.
The law states that people in Tier 3 areas are allowed to gather in groups of up to six on a public highway. So as long as people aren’t in a private garden, trick-or-treating could – just about – be allowed.
In Tier 2, it’s allowed – if you stay outside
In Tier 2 (High alert) areas of England, you are banned from gathering indoors with anyone who isn’t from your household or bubble.
However, gatherings of up to six people are allowed in private gardens, including the front or back garden.
This means trick-or-treating on someone’s porch is acceptable, as long as the group comprises no more than six people in total.
A No10 spokesman said: “If you’re in the High Covid alert level, then the rule of six applies in private gardens and outdoor spaces, but households must not mix indoors.”
In Tier 1, it’s allowed
In Tier 1 (Medium) areas of England, you are allowed to gather up to six people from multiple households, either indoors or in a private garden.
You should still observe social distancing, but this means trick-or-treating in Tier 1 areas is allowed.
A No10 spokesman said: “In terms of the medium alert level, you can meet inside and outside in no more than six people.”
But beware the rule of six
In all three tiers, even where you are allowed to trick-or-treat, the ‘rule of six’ applies everywhere indoors or outdoors.
This means you cannot at any point have a gathering of multiple households that numbers more than six people.
And it’s not just as simple as taking six kids on an outing.
The rule of six applies to both adults and children in a group – so chaperones must be counted too.
And No10 appeared to suggest it applies to whoever answers the door to the trick-or-treaters.
If correct, this would mean families must keep their trick-or-treating groups to four or five people maximum, to account for the numbers then hitting six when someone answers the door.
Please note: This guide was put together to the best of our knowledge but, other than direct quotes from No10, is not official government advice.