What Tier 2 restrictions could mean for trick or treating after North East placed under 'high' alert level

With just weeks to go until Halloween, families across the North East are looking for answers on whether or not trick-or-treating will be allowed under Covid-19 restrictions.

Local authority areas across the North East and Tees Valley are now subject to Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions, set out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a briefing on Monday, October 12.

Under this local Covid alert level – which is classed as high – people must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.

Residents also must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.

There has not yet been specific guidance from the Government on trick or treating.

Nine local authority areas in the North East were already subject to stricter local rules prior to Mr Johnson’s announcement; and the Tier 2 restrictions do not differ much from these.

The new three-tier system of restrictions – medium, high and very high – has been introduced by the Government to simplify and standardise rules locally.

So, where does that leave us for trick-or-treating?

The Government is yet to issue any blanket advice on how the Halloween pastime will be affected by the restrictions.

Families have been advised by one North East council to think of alternative ways to mark the occasion.

The tier two restrictions state that people should not meet with others outside their household at home or anywhere indoors and only up to six people could meet in an outdoor space including gardens.

One North East council is calling on families living in its area to mark October 31 with an alternative celebration, which will keep health and safety a priority.

Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, suggested a range of other activities to keep Halloween celebrations firmly within the rules.

These include virtual Halloween parties with those outside your household, a spooky film marathon, decorating your homes and a family baking or crafting session.

Cllr Atkinson said in a statement : “Halloween is such an exciting time of year, with trick-or-treating a much-loved pastime for children.

“Of course, this year has presented us all with unprecedented challenges and many key events and traditions have had to be adapted or cancelled, including the borough’s annual fireworks display, due to social distancing rules.

“We are keen to help keep the spirit of Halloween alive. However, coronavirus is sadly still all too present in our communities.

“The health and safety of our residents must remain our priority right now and as such, we would encourage families to continue to abide by the current restrictions as well as consider some safer alternative ways to celebrate within the rules.”

Tier 1 of the new coronavirus restrictions – known as medium – sees people ordered to abide by the ‘rule of six’ both indoors and outdoors while Tier 3 – the most strict of the three and currently – means people must not socialise with anybody they do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.

Cllr Atkinson added: “We continue to monitor developments locally and await any specific guidance from the government. We will look to provide further advice nearer the time.”

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