TRICK or treaters need to be careful not to spread further horror this Halloween.

Swindon’s coronavirus chief urged people to celebrate the occasion at home with their families – warning that two Covid marshals would be patrolling the streets with police tonight to look out for after-hours revellers gathering after the pubs shut at 10pm.

Steve Maddern, director of public health for Swindon Borough Council, warned: “I don’t want buckets of Halloween sweets to be part of the contamination route to getting Covid.”

The warning came as:

  • Swindon’s coronavirus rate rose again, with the equivalent of 121.1 new cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days
  • Borough officials were battling 10 workplace Covid outbreaks, 10 outbreaks in the town’s schools and four “situations” in care homes
  • Oxford enters Tier 2 today, with stricter restrictions on where people can meet socially

And although there are currently no plans for Swindon to move from Tier 1 to the higher category, borough officials warned against complacency.

Mr Maddern told reporters: “We do need to be very mindful it could be a matter of days, weeks rather than months.”

Public health chiefs are hoping for a quiet Halloween, with trick or treating discouraged.

Swindon Advertiser:

Steve Maddern, director of public health at Swindon Borough Council

Mr Maddern said: “I’m not saying don’t enjoy Halloween. But we’re trying to encourage people not to mix unnecessarily.

“I think if you’re trick or treating with children, you’ve got to think if you’re handing out buckets of sweets for example, you’ve got potentially many hands going into a bucket.

“Although we know Covid is spread through air droplets and aerosol, it’s also on contact surfaces. I don’t want buckets of Halloween sweets to be part of the contamination route to getting Covid.”

He asked people to stay at home and mark the spooky occasion with their families.

“If you still feel you need to go out trick or treating, remember those government guidelines. You’re not going out in groups of more than six, you’re keeping your hands clean and wearing an appropriate mask or face covering.”

He added: “A Halloween mask is not going to protect you, so don’t think that by putting on your plastic Frankenstein mask that’s going to protect you.”

Swindon Advertiser:

Some Swindon residents, like Damian Pickett (above) are running Halloween trails to help families celebrate in a socially-distant way Picture: DAVE COX

The health chief said he feared it was “only a matter of time” before the town saw widespread transmission of the virus in the community.

If that happens it is possible it will push Swindon into Tier 2. However, the negotiation over whether to move into Tier 2 would involve the government, local politicians and potentially other councils if Swindon were part of a group of areas across the region that simultaneously shifted from Tier 1.

Among the factors considered by officials would be the number and type of outbreaks, the number of cases among over-60s and the situation at the hospital.

Currently, relatively few of those testing positive are over-60, with the bulk of new cases among people aged 40 to 60 (35 per cent) or 18 to 25 (32 per cent).

As of October 27, there were 18 beds at Great Western Hospital occupied by coronavirus patients. In the week to October 25, 19 people were admitted to GWH with coronavirus or diagnosed with the virus while in hospital.

Yesterday, Adver readers voted overwhelmingly against the idea of a second lockdown similar to the “firebreak” in Wales. One reader said it would “cripple” Swindon businesses.

Earlier this week, Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to rule out a second national lockdown.