Stay safe, is the clear message from Portsmouth City Council ahead of this year’s Halloween and bonfire night celebrations. With the city’s COVID alert level at medium and local cases of coronavirus increasing, residents are being asked to continue to follow national coronavirus rules and look out for the safety of their families, friends and neighbours by celebrating at home.
Cllr Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, comments: “This time of year is full of festivities when we’d normally get together with our friends and family. Sadly this year it is not safe to host parties, large family gatherings or big events, like our fireworks display in Cosham, as it would mean putting people at risk from the spread of coronavirus. I’d urge everyone to find fun ways to celebrate at home this year and to stick to the coronavirus safety rules, especially social distancing and the rule of six. If we all act responsibly then we will help to limit the spread of infection.”
From traditions like pumpkin carving, to a ghostly garden scavenger hunt, or watching a witchy film, there are lots of ways to have a suitably spooky Halloween at home.
Families are being asked not to cold call at other houses for trick or treating this year, in order to limit contact between different households and protect others, especially older residents and the most vulnerable, from the spread of coronavirus.
Helen Atkinson, Portsmouth City Council’s director of public health, comments: “We’re asking everyone to celebrate these events with consideration for the whole community. Traditions like trick or treating are risky as it’s difficult to maintain social distancing and coronavirus can be passed on through contact with shared surfaces, such as sweet packets or doorbells. To limit the spread of infection, it is safest to celebrate at home and stick to the rule of six and social distancing advice if you are seeing people from outside your household.”
With large-scale bonfire night events, including Cosham’s annual firework display, unable to go ahead this year to protect public health, residents are being encouraged to find other ways to mark bonfire night with a bang – from making a Guy Fawkes, to celebrating with bangers and mash.
Those who are planning to celebrate with fireworks are being asked to look out for the safety of family and friends and to show consideration to neighbours and pets when letting off fireworks in the garden.
Group Manager for Community Safety at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, John Amos said: “Bonfire night celebrations will be different this year and with many organised events cancelled, emergency services are preparing for a busier night than usual as people celebrate in their own gardens.
“Remember that fireworks are explosives, so we urge members of the public not to take unnecessary risks and to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the Firework Code. Please help us to protect the community by showing respect this bonfire night. Respect the firework, respect the emergency services and respect your neighbours.”
Portsmouth City Council is also sharing creative ways to celebrate Halloween and bonfire night safely at home this year on its website. Visit www.portsmouth.gov.uk/events for more details.