Trick or treating to go ahead as hopes soar of a near-normal Halloween

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Melbourne’s locked down children are set to experience a near-normal Halloween this year with data experts predicting Victoria will hit the 80 per cent double vaccination rate on October 31, the day of the event.

At 80 per cent restrictions change to allow 10 visitors to a home, suggesting children could trick-or-treat like they did in pre-pandemic times.

Sarah-Lee Jobson among her Halloween decorations at her Rowville home.Credit:Eddie Jim

Psychologists say it would be a taste of normality children have been craving after two years of disrupted schooling and being unable to have play dates with their friends.

With double vaccination rates certain to hit 70 per cent next week, Victoria’s health department confirmed trick-or-treating will be allowed.

“[At 70 per cent] activities such as trick-or-treating at Halloween could take place, so long as everyone trick-or-treating abides by the restrictions that are in place at the time,” a spokeswoman said.

“Private gathering restrictions [at 70 per cent] also prevent people entering property, including front yards and door-knocking – so interactions must be contactless and outside the property.

“Trick-or-treating should also be done while taking all the usual precautions that remain so important – keeping at least 1.5 metres away from others and wearing a mask.”

Restrictions will be loosened significantly at 80 per cent double vaccination, which covid.live.com.au predicts will be reached on October 31, but the health department refused to comment on trick-or-treating specifics at that rate.

Psychologist Betty Chetcuti said part of the excitement children are likely feeling about Halloween this year is being able to make plans that are likely to happen.

“They’ve felt a sense of ‘what’s the point of having any goals or making any plans, when we won’t be allowed to do anything?’. This time they’re excited because they are sensing their choice and agency is going to allow them to do this.”

She says children have suffered significantly by not being able to be with other children during the pandemic.

“Halloween is one of the first times in a while that they are going to be able to meet their neighbours and peers and enjoy that thing of celebrating a tradition. This year it probably has less to do with the lollies – although those are still important – and more about their psychological connection to their community.”

Sarah-Lee Jobson, a horror movie enthusiast who gradually grew into a Halloween devotee, first decorated her front yard for the event in 1994.

This year, she is going all out on her house in Rowville’s Taylors Lane in a bid to win a $10,000 prize from a costume company for the nation’s best decorations.

Ms Jobson spends months preparing for Halloween by collecting items from hard rubbish and tinkering away at displays. “I acquire bits and pieces all year long and spend weeks making and amending decorations.”

Sarah-Lee Jobson is a big fan of Halloween.Credit:Eddie Jim

Others turn to online shopping for decorations. The co-founder of online retailer costumes.com.au, Nathan Huppatz, says people in locked down cities are focused on decorating their house for trick or treating this year. “Especially areas that are not sure what end of lockdown will look like.”

Among those trying to make Halloween about community connection is Natalie Mitchell, whose Williams Landing home has been decorated for the last few weeks with three skeletons. Ms Mitchell, a sales representative for a waste management firm in her day job, has been counting down the days to Halloween, changing the skeletons’ display daily.

“We’ve always counted down to Halloween,” said Ms Mitchell, “but the prolonged lockdown has taken a toll on everyone.”

She’s pleased her daily change to the display of the three skeletons gives neighbours and their children an excuse to get outdoors. “The feedback we’ve got has just been phenomenal,” she says.

Her family’s display gives other families in the area a chance “to get off their devices and out for a walk. It’s that whole idea of spreading kindness.”

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