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Canadians divided over whether to let pandemic disrupt Halloween, holidays: poll

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With Thanksgiving and Halloween fast approaching, many Canadians are divided about how they should be celebrating

A survey from Leger has found six in 10 people will be changing the way they celebrate

More than half of Canadians think the government should step in and cancel Halloween altogether

OTTAWA — With Thanksgiving and Halloween fast approaching, many Canadians are divided about how everyone should be celebrating, according to a poll.

Conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, the poll comes as COVID-19 cases are surging and public health authorities are pleading with Canadians in places with rising case counts to avoid contact with anyone outside their immediate families or at least to stick to small social circles.

RELATED: BCCDC releases new guidelines for Halloween

The poll found about half of parents who let their kids go trick-or-treating last year will do the same this year.

Those who do go trick-or-treating will find slimmer pickings, with 49 per cent of respondents saying they won’t open their doors this year to hand out candy.

As for Thanksgiving, Canadians are divided. About four in 10 said the pandemic has forced them to change their plans.

Many people said they would be more conscious about only celebrating with a small circle and others will use Zoom to connect with friends and loved ones.

Seventy-four per cent said they’ll celebrate with close or immediate family members to keep their social interactions to a minimum, 54 per cent said they’ll limit celebrations to a smaller number of visitors, 40 per cent plan to issue strict instructions against kissing, hugging or handshaking, and 37 per cent plan to avoid air travel.

Thirty per cent said they’ll hold virtual celebrations and 25 per cent said they won’t attend religious services or celebrations they would otherwise have gone to. Nineteen per cent said they plan to cancel celebrations altogether.

Support for government response

There was less division over how governments should respond to the second wave of the coronavirus.

Fifty-three per cent said high-risk businesses and activities should be shut down while others should remain open for the time being. Another 28 per cent said as many businesses as possible should be kept open while we see how the second wave progresses. Another 14 per cent favoured a near-total lockdown similar to that imposed last spring.

According to the survey, 85 per cent of people said they’d support shutting down bars, nightclubs and casinos, while 74 per cent would support shutting down movie theatres and all amateur sports, including school sports.

Sixty-seven per cent would back shutting down places of worship, interprovincial travel (61 per cent), as well as schools and universities (52 per cent). Another 52 per cent support stopping visits to long-term or personal care homes, parks and playgrounds (47 per cent),and restaurants or offices (46 per cent). Closing shopping centres had 44 per cent in favour and retail stores ad 33 per cent.

The online poll of 1,523 adult Canadians was conducted Oct. 2 to 4. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.