2020 has brought several changes to what many of us consider “normal”. As we near the holiday season, many of our typical celebrations will most likely have to change as well. This includes rethinking how we celebrate Halloween and other fall traditions.
Unfortunately, many of the Halloween traditions that we look forward to each year pose a high risk for spreading viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a list of Halloween related activities and what level of risk they pose.
According to the CDC, traditional door to door trick-or-treating is a high-risk activity. If you have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to COVID-19, it is highly recommended that you do not participate in in-person Halloween activities and should not pass out candy to trick-or-treaters.
If you are thinking about participating in trick-or-treating this year, it’s important to assess the risk within your own community. To get more information on COVID-19 in your specific area, you can consult the CDC’s COVID-19 tracker which provides detailed case data for each state and individual counties.
According to the CDC, if the infection rate in your community is between 5 and 10 percent, or below 5 percent, it could be acceptable to take part in trick-or-treating as long as precautions are taken.
When deciding whether or not to participate in trick-or-treating this year, it is important to take into consideration your health and the health of those you come into frequent contact with. If you or any member of your household have any health risks, modifications and protection should be put into place to prevent the spread of illnesses.
Precautions for Trick-or-Treating
The Washington Post gathered several tips from pediatricians on how to keep children, yourself, and others safe when trick-or-treating:
- Have kids, and adults, wear a face mask or incorporate one into a costume.
- Adhere to social-distancing guidelines by standing six feet apart.
- Have a parent or guardian accompany a child and hold them accountable for wearing a mask and social distancing.
- Avoid congregating around doorsteps and porches.
- Use hand sanitizer after receiving candy from each house
- Do not eat candy while trick-or-treating; make certain hands are clean before touching the face and eating candy.
- Wash hands as soon as you get home.
- Remove costumes and shower immediately after getting home.
Utilize outdoor spaces like sidewalks and driveways when passing out candy to avoid excessive touching of doorbells and door handles.
In addition to trick-or-treating, there are several other popular fall related activities that could pose a high risk for spreading COVID-19 and other illnesses.
High-risk Halloween Activities
The CDC recommends avoiding these activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Trunk-or-Treat – having an event where treats are handed out from the trunks of cars lined up in parking lots
- Crowded costume parties held indoors
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded and screaming
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people not in your household
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
Moderate-risk Halloween Activities
While these activities also present a risk, the CDC states that the risk is not as great as the activities that have been listed above.
- One-way trick-or-treating; individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance
- Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
- Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
- If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
- Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
- Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
Lower-risk Halloween Activities
If you wish to participate in a Halloween or fall related function, the CDC recommends these activities as posing the lowest risk for spreading illnesses.
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house
When deciding if you are going to partake in trick-or-treating or attend gatherings that might pose a risk for the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses, it is important to consider your health and the health of those around you. Follow social-distancing guidelines when possible and wear a mask to protect yourself and others.
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Nothing will be like before. And it applies even to holidays.
It is hard to imagine what this Halloween will be like. Perhaps we should cancel the celebration completely until the situation improves.
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