Political leaders are imploring residents not to go trick or treating this year as coronavirus cases surge across the county.

Children and families are being urged to enjoy alternatives to traditional trick or treating on October 31.

Cllr Holly Whitbread, chair of Epping Forest District Council Community Safety Partnership, said: "We are keen to get the balance right between ensuring people are protected from the spread of coronavirus but can still enjoy themselves.

"Halloween is hugely popular with children and families and we want people to be able to enjoy it, but we must celebrate safely, in a Covid secure way and in line with local restrictions, so this year that means celebrating differently within your own household bubble."

The council's community resilience team will be out with Essex Police next week visiting shops talking to staff about the sale of eggs, flour and fireworks to prevent anti-social behaviour.

Parkguard and police patrols will also be stepped up in the run up to Halloween and on Halloween night.

With residents looking to enjoy ways of celebrating Halloween at home, Essex Fire has issued the following safety advice: "Stay home and create your own haunted house and use flameless or LED candles to create a spooky atmosphere. If you must use wax candles, never give them to children to hold, even if it’s in a pumpkin. Never leave a lit candle alone, not even for a few seconds.

"To reduce the risk to children and others and to combat the rise in infections it would be better to celebrate at home rather than trick-or-treating and collecting sweets from communal bowls."

There are many alternative ways to make it a happy Halloween:

  • Be creative – create a pumpkin trail where you live so everyone can join in without knocking on doors
  • Be active – get dressed up and take a walk around your neighbourhood to see homes decorated for Halloween
  • Be virtual – consider an online party with decorations, fancy dress and themed food. Play Hallowe’en games, bake Hallowe’en treats or tell spooky stories
  • Be social – take pictures of your spooky costumes and activities to share on social media
  • Be colourful – dress up the outside of your house with Halloween decorations for you and your neighbours to enjoy
  • Be treat-wise – buy your own sweets to give to your children so they don’t miss out
  • Be bright – if you carve a pumpkin, use a battery-powered light inside it to reduce the risk of fire

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