MONTREAL -- The 2020 Halloween party will not be quite like the previous ones.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the harvest of sweet treats hauled in by thousands of children will take on special significance before a cold season without family or friendly gatherings that promises to be long.

Even though Premier Francois Legault and Quebec director of public health Horacio Arruda gave the green light to trick-or-treating, the event will be marked by respecting the health measure instructions to avoid further spread of COVID-19.

Police services across the province quickly adjusted their instructions to make the event safer, as in Sherbrooke, where it is recommended to limit the trick-or-treating circuit to its residential area, between 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., without entering any houses and respecting a distance of two metres with other families.

Collected treats should be quarantined for at least 24 hours before consumption.

The Quebec government poster that accompanied the Sherbrooke police's news release also asked children to refrain from singing near others.

Trick or treating in jeopardy this year

At the Trois-Rivieres Police Department (DPTR), the instructions are similar, without specifying the trick-or-treating time or the ban on singing. Children are, however, advised to wear a face mask.

DPTR police will also be clearly visible to encourage motorists to slow down, but also to remind families of the health instructions who have chosen to make an outing.

"Public health has mentioned that it is just members who reside at the same address who can circulate together," said agent Michele Loranger in an interview with The Canadian Press.

La DPTR présente pour la fête de l'Halloween ! Malgré la situation de COVID qui prévaut actuellement, le gouvernement a...

Posted by Police de Trois-Rivières on Thursday, 29 October 2020

She emphasized that the police will not hesitate to give tickets if it is really necessary.

"We will recall the instructions, but if we see that people do not collaborate or refuse to comply, unfortunately, we can also issue a statement of offence. Minors can receive tickets of $560, but for adults, it is $1,546," she said.

For adults and adolescents tempted to ignore government instructions by organizing costume parties, the police will be much less tolerant.

"We will be vigilant about the calls we receive, (and) if there are Halloween parties in residences, we are going to intervene," said Loranger. "We will go and check the place and then educate people, but if they do not cooperate, they can also receive tickets.

"But rest assured, we will not be doing a witch hunt," she said with a laugh, clearly understanding the mood.

Finally, pandemic or not, the usual instructions still apply to the little monsters, princesses and other characters roaming the streets of our neighbourhoods.

"Children are advised to wear light-coloured clothing with reflective bands to be more visible," said Loranger. "If it's in the evening, also bring a small flashlight to be more visible to motorists and try to avoid clothes that are too long to prevent tripping."

Montreal police (SPVM) posted a video on YouTube with directions of how to safely trick-or-treat and not risk a fine.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2020.