Pumpkins, witches, ghouls and goblins, and now the pandemic make for a scary holiday, indeed. Many of the traditional ways of celebrating Halloween will be considerably scarier this year because they bring the risk of spreading COVID-19. Here are some recommendations from Intermountain Healthcare’s Infectious Disease experts to help you enjoy Halloween safely.
Halloween will look different this year, but it can still be fun and enjoyable if you plan ahead for a safe holiday by planning if you’ll participate, what you’ll wear, and how you’ll hand out candy safely. How to do that:
- Assess your risk. If you have risk factors or are over 65, don’t open your door to trick-or- treaters. If you want to go walking and observe the celebration, do so at a safe distance and wear a mask. Download a sign to hang on your door to let people know you’re not participating.
- Costumes. Wear a mask while you’re trick-or-treating. A costume mask isn’t a substitute for a cloth mask unless it’s made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose. Don’t wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask. Even better, honor your caregivers and go as a doctor, nurse, or other hospital staff member — that way your mask will be part of your costume.
- Candy. Make sure you provide individually wrapped candy. As fun as homemade donuts are, it’s not the year to give them out.
Don’t allow dozens of hands to reach into the same candy bowl or picky trick-or-treaters to rifle through your candy to find the best one.
- Instead, use tongs to remove the candy from the bowl and drop it into each trick-or-treater’s bag.
- Wear a mask when you open the door.
- Wash your hands frequently.
Trick-or-treating is largely an outside activity and is a much better option than an indoor gathering. While wearing a mask and keeping a six-foot distance is key, kids and families can trick-or-treat in a safe way.
- Keep your mask on at all times.
- Stay six feet away from others.
- If there’s already a group of kids at one door, wait until they leave before approaching.
- Don’t linger at any one house for more than a few minutes.
- Don’t let your kids eat candy along the way until it can be wiped down at the end of the night.
NOTE about trunk-or-treats: Trunk-or-treats should be handled in the same manner and should maintain a one-way direction. Individual cars should be parked at least 6-feet apart and each household should be alone at each vehicle. If anyone in your household is at high-risk for COVID-19 this activity isn’t recommended.
Once you’re home from trick-or-treating the impulse might be to dive right into eating candy but remember to first:
- Wash your hands and your child’s hands.
- Wipe down candy wrappers with a disinfectant wipe before your child eats anything. Don’t wipe the candy itself; that would be dangerous.
- Throw away any candy that isn’t individually wrapped.
Halloween parties that involve people outside your household are discouraged. If you want to have a Halloween party, keep it small and invite only immediate family members. If you’re attending a party, here are some things to consider:
- Keep your protective mask on as much as possible.
- If you’re eating or drinking, stay six feet away from other families and replace your mask immediately. You’re at highest risk for COVID-19 transmission with your mask off.
- Avoid any no-mask parties. These have been shown to be extremely high risk for COVID-19 transmission.
- Avoid buffet-style eating. Have one person serve food and have separate tables for each family. Try to have all eating and drinking outside.
- Games should focus on activities kids can do with their masks still on. No bobbing for apples this year!
If you or a member of your household is at high risk for COVID-19, consider creative alternatives to traditional Halloween activities:
- Let your child trick-or-treat around the house. Include indoor and outdoor spaces.
- Make a Halloween scavenger hunt around the house.
- Organize a drive-by/walk-by neighborhood Halloween scavenger hunt or pumpkin walk.
- Hold a virtual Halloween party and include a costume contest or Halloween trivia contest.
Anyway you look at it, Halloween will feel a little different this year. Make the most of it by planning some safe and fun activities for your family.
Advice 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 house, apartment, or living space.
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt.
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest.
- Halloween movie night with the people you live with.
- Scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home.
- One-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for kids to grab.
- Small-group outdoor costume parade where people are six feet apart.
- Attending a costume party outdoors where protective masks are used and people can social distance.
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where mask use is enforced.
- Pumpkin patches or orchards.
- Outdoor Halloween movie night with local family and friends spaced at least six feet apart.
High-risk activities. Please avoid these to prevent the spread of COVID-19!
- Traditional trick-or-treating without masks and social distancing.
- Crowded costume parties held indoors.
- Indoor haunted houses.
- Hayrides or tractor rides with people who aren’t in your household.
- Traveling to a rural fall festival outside of your community.