The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has come out with recommendations on how to safely celebrate Halloween this year. The advice is probably going to result in a lot of disappointed children who love trick-or-treating. However, the CDC does offer some alternatives that can still provide a festive time for all age groups.
Who’s Not Invited
The CDC guidelines state that certain people should not attend any in-person celebrations if they:
- Have an active case of COVID-19.
- Have been exposed to it within the last 14 days.
- Have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Are waiting for test results.
- Have an increased risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19.
- Live or work with someone who is high-risk.
Costumes & Masks
If you dress up and go out, you should wear a cloth mask. A costume mask is NOT considered a substitute for a cloth mask. However, costume masks should not be worn over cloth masks if it makes it difficult to breathe.
If using a cloth mask as part of the costume, it should be made of two or more breathable fabric layers that cover the mouth and nose, and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
Risky Halloween Activities
The CDC website has categorized activities as either low, moderate, or high-risk.
“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” states the site. For example, traditional trick-or-treating where children go door-to-door falls into the high-risk category. However, that doesn’t mean that Halloween 2020 has to be skipped entirely or be a joyless holiday this year.
“Parents can work to make trick-or-treating safe. It will take some extra preparation and thinking. Kids can have a good time. It will just look different from past years but that’s fine,” Dr. Sharon Nachman, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, tells Parentology.
Nachman discourages allowing older kids to trick-or-treat unsupervised. She agrees with the CDC’s advice to avoid parties. Although the CDC considers parties that take place outdoors where social distancing is maintained and masks are worn to be a moderate-risk activity.
Low-Risk Halloween Celebrations
Here are some low-risk suggestions from the CDC.
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household.
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
- Decorating your home.
- Virtual Halloween costume contest.
- Halloween movie night with household members.
Scavenger hunts are also an option. In one option, 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. The other is a trick-or-treat search/scavenger hunt with household members in or around your home.
When visiting pumpkin patches or orchards, it’s advised to use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples. Here are some other moderate-risk suggestions.
- Individually-wrapped goodie bags lined up for families to grab and go.
- Outdoor, open-air costume parade.
- Outdoor costume party.
- Outdoor, one-way, walk-through haunted forest.
- Outdoor Halloween movie night with local family and friends
The CDC trick-or-treating guidelines advise that all activities include social distancing and mask-wearing.
For activities like haunted forests and movie nights, the CDC recommends social distancing of greater than six feet if screaming is likely to occur.
Because children are not the only ones who enjoy Halloween, the CDC discourages using alcohol or drugs because they can cloud judgment resulting in increased participation in risky behaviors.