CALGARY -- Health officials in Alberta have set out clear guidelines for residents to follow for Halloween, but Airbnb has taken a harder line with anyone planning to rent their properties out for events.

As soon as Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced that the spookiest season of the year could move ahead without a problem, many Albertans turned to their schedules to find out where they could celebrate the season.

However, with the pandemic continuing in the province, officials say strict rules must remain in place.

"Halloween gatherings must adhere to all of the public health measures in place," said Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications for Alberta Health in an email to CTV News.

"If they are at a restaurant or pub, they must follow the public health guidance and limits in place. If they are at a household or other setting, there is a 15-person limit in Calgary and Edmonton."

That means, as long as business owners play ball, costume contests and other events can go ahead without any problems.

That doesn't mean the fun will be limitless on Saturday night, McMillan says.

"The limit applies to social gatherings are characterized by people from multiple cohorts coming together for the purpose of social activity, with people moving freely to associate, mix or interact with other cohorts; having two-way conversations amongst members from multiple cohorts; and sharing food, laughing and group activities."

Those who do break the rules could face enforcement under the Public Health Act by any police agency in the province of Alberta.

"Complaints can also be directed to the Alberta Health Services for an investigation. The first focus will always on public education and to work with owners/operators before moving to enforcement action, which could ultimately include fines up to $1,000," McMillan says.


Airbnb issued a reminder to all of its clients who were planning to post their properties for rent for a one-day period in order to help crack down on parties and events that could encourage the spread of COVID-19.

The company installed the ban on Aug. 20 and said it is still in force for the entire Halloween weekend throughout Canada and the U.S.

"The great majority of guests are respectful of our hosts’ homes and neighbors, and we understand that this initiative will disrupt many one-night reservations that might not have led to parties. This action is designed to help protect our hosts and the communities they live in," the company said in a release.

The prohibition from Airbnb also capped occupancy at 16 people, which includes both overnight guests and visitors.

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The province says evidence shows 45 per cent of current active cases in Alberta have come from household gatherings and private events.

Alberta Health has set out more specific rules regarding Halloween on its website, but the core principles of the guidelines are the same as they've always been during the pandemic – wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer and, if you're feeling sick, stay home.