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Trick or treating allowed, says minister, as transmission between children is 'incredibly low'

Emily Cleary
·3-min read
Young kids trick or treating during Halloween
Trick or treating is allowed as long as the public follow 'common sense' and stick to the 'rule of six', Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Breakfast (Getty images)

Children can trick or treat this Halloween as long as they follow the ‘hands, face and space’ coronavirus rules, a government minister has said.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast Nadhim Zahawi said that the tradition of knocking on doors asking for treats could go ahead on 31 October, despite rising cases of COVID-19, because infection rates among children are ‘incredibly low’.

The business secretary was asked by host Rachel Burden: “What’s your advice to parents? Children are beginning to build up their excitement for this year’s Halloween celebrations.

“So, are you saying ‘yes go out and trick or treat?’ What are you telling parents?”

“I’m saying Hands, Face, Space and rule of six,” Zahawi replied, before appearing to permit groups of up to six children to form a group.

Halloween trick or treat. Children in black and orange witch costume and hat standing at house door with pumpkin and spider decoration. Kids trick or treating. Boy and girl with candy buckets.
Children can still trick or treat at Hallowe'en because infections between them are low, Zahawi told BBC Breakfast, as he appeared to suggest groups of six children were allowed (Getty)

“Six children, no more. Hands. Space. Face. Enjoy Halloween safely - in a Covid safe way” he said.

“Can you go and knock on doors?” Burden asked. “Can you go and pick sweets out of a bucket?”

“As I said, Hands. Space. Face. Rule of six, you can enjoy Halloween in a safe way,” Zahawi repeated.

“Exercise common sense, schools have done phenomenally well and infections amongst children are incredibly low, so actually if you’re careful you can enjoy Halloween in a safe way.”

As Zahawi repeated “Hands, face, space,” once more, Burden quipped: “Yes, I heard, the first and second time.”

But Zahawi’s comments caused anger and confusion on social media. Twitter user Kerry Hooper said: “Kids will be knocking on doors of possibly elderly or vulnerable people and what happens then, do they throw sweets down towards the gate?”

KSH Safety asked: “If half the country have restrictions banning meeting other households from meeting in homes or gardens, why was business secretary Nadhim Zahawi encouraging us to go trick or treating this Halloween?”

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: A journalist attempts to interview Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi as he leaves the cabinet office on October 21, 2019 in London, England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pressing Parliament for a "straight up-and-down vote" on his Brexit deal, after he was forced to ask the European Union for a new delay of the Brexit deadline. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Nadhim Zahawi sparked criticism on social media after saying children could trick or treat this Hallowe'en (Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Sophie Walker wrote: “Can kids knock on doors and collect sweets at Halloween? Response: ‘I'm saying hands, face, space and rule of six.’ That's clear, then.”

And Liarpolitics said: “‘Rule of six... six children.... and what about the adults walking them around? What an a***hole he and @CONservzatives (sic) are.”

Last week, Downing Street reportedly confirmed that parents in areas where households have been told not to mix won’t be allowed to let their children go out and knock on people’s doors on Halloween.

Watch: 'Children under 12 should be exempt from the rule of six'

All children in areas of local lockdown will be banned from taking part in the tradition, with a No 10 spokesperson saying: “The rules are clear on household mixing, dependent on whether you are in a local lockdown area or not.

“We are clear that everybody needs to follow the rule of six to ensure we can control and try and reduce the spread of the virus.

“The rule of six will be asked of the public.”

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