Pumpkin with Sharp Teeth; provided by SnappyGoat

It is not a well-kept secret that UBC Okanagan students like to party. Students party at Orientation, Frosh, Recess, but also during midterm/exam weeks. Some might say UBCO is known for its campus party culture—we even have The Well Student Pub in our UNC building and several Instagram accounts dedicated to UBCO student party life.

Admittedly, I consider a wild Friday night to be staying at home in my pajamas while eating copious amounts of Chinese food. However, the reality is that the majority of UBCO students are, understandably, missing the campus party life right now.

Halloween is occurring during a global pandemic this year, at a time where masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing have become commonplace. Thus, I feel compelled to remind students to refrain from throwing any large Halloween parties and to continue to follow our Provincial government’s COVID-19 guidelines and safety protocols. To minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19, avoid the 3 C’s: closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, and close faces.

Needless to say, attending or throwing a house party is especially dangerous this year. A huge Halloween house party with friends and strangers is sure to include all 3 C’s—think wisely before heading out this Hallows’ Eve. COVID-19 cases are spiking; the pandemic is not over despite students feeling ‘over it.’ In fact, as of October 26th, 2020, B.C announced new household gathering restrictions since 817 new cases of COVID-19 were reported over the weekend of October 23-25, 2020.

Dr. Bonnie Henry states, “We need to be aware that having a large party, a large wedding, [or] a large event introduces risk. And the risk is less than what we’re seeing in other places but it is not zero.” Importantly, these new restrictions limit “private household gatherings to members of an immediate household plus a ‘safe six.’” This safe six refers to a maximum of six people that have already been incorporated into one COVID-19 contact bubble. It does not mean any six people; it means sticking to the people you have already established to be in your safe circle of friends.

Dr. Bonnie Henry emphasizes the importance of following these new restrictions and explains the consequences of violating them, “the orders are enforceable by bylaw officers, police officers, environmental officers, etc. People can issue complaints about a large party, in the same way they would file a noise complaint.”

UBCO students, I urge you to be mindful of our community and adhere to the social distancing guidelines as put forth by the Province and Dr. Bonnie Henry. It could quite literally save lives. Being a hero has never been easier—stay at home and stay safe. Remember, there is a reason school is online right now. Do not think that you are exempt from following government rules and restrictions simply because it is Halloween.

Besides, there are other ways to celebrate Halloween this year—you can still have fun without going to a huge Halloween party. You could spend time with your long-distance friends virtually, or watch scary, Halloween-themed movies on Netflix. You could go to a pumpkin patch, a winery, or run through a corn maze. You could dress up in a costume and eat a 50-pack of assorted mini-chocolates in one sitting. Do anything except throw a massive costume party with people you don’t know. Throwing a huge Halloween party during the middle of a global pandemic is irresponsible; UBCO students are too intelligent to be so reckless and selfish.

UBCO students, take care of your community this Halloween and be safe. A holiday does not mean COVID-19 has disappeared, no matter how much students might want it to disguise itself for a night. If you feel guilty reading this, I hope that voice in the back of your mind—your conscience—implores you to rearrange your party plans.

Contracting COVID-19 and transmitting it to others is much scarier than a spooky Halloween themed party. Be respectful and mindful of how your actions impact others; consider the risks of partying during a pandemic. Students are not immune to COVID-19—not even on Halloween weekend.

Be kind, be calm, be safe.