Having reached a point in the year where many large holidays are quickly looming on the horizon, questions have begun to arise about the best practices regarding their celebration while being conscious of the pandemic.
The current focus is on Halloween, which arrives in less than two weeks. People want to celebrate without posing a risk to themselves or others, and while the only guaranteed method of preventing the spread of the virus is not participating in these activities at all, the CDC has posted general guidelines for participation in holiday activities this year, which outlines many things individuals and communities can do to provide a safer way to celebrate the holiday.
Outdoor activities are considerably safer than indoor gatherings, so in this instance, participating in trick-or-treating is safer than attending a Halloween party, but should still be approached with caution. It is not recommended to attend haunted houses or other enclosed, indoor activities.
This being said, caution should still be taken on both sides of the interaction when it comes to trick-or-treating.
Participating in Trick-or-Treating as an Adult
If you are providing candy for trick-or-treaters, consider setting up a station of individualized bags for the children to take, rather than a communal bowl. Make sure that you are using pre-packaged candies only, and that you are thoroughly and properly washing your hands before handling it.
This station should be set up away from the house and should be used without direct interaction between yourself and the trick-or-treaters, or between trick-or-treaters. If possible, provide extra masks (but do not share masks as that risks cross-contamination) and access to hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Maintain social distance while participating in the event.
Participating in Trick-or-Treating as a Parent
If you are taking your children trick-or-treating, make sure that you are maintaining social distance from other trick-or-treaters and those giving out candy. Only allow your child to take prepackaged candy from stand-alone setups, and do not allow them to go up to doors as they usually would. Carry hand sanitizer and a surface sanitizer with you, and make sure to use both of them frequently. Ensure that your child has washed their hands before and after participating and that they do not touch their face between washing.
It is also important to note that both adults and children in costume should use proper cotton masks for protection while participating. A costume mask does not provide the same medical benefit as a cotton mask designed to prevent the spread of disease. That being said, please do not allow your child to wear a costume mask over their cotton mask, as this may make breathing difficult. Instead, you might try and find or make a mask that functions as part of the costume while still following guidelines for safety as set by the CDC.
Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating
If you are still uncomfortable with allowing your child to participate in trick-or-treating, or if your city or state bans the activity altogether, you may consider celebrating the holiday with different seasonal activities instead. As a family, you might carve pumpkins, or create an in-home Halloween scavenger hunt for your children. These can also be excellent activities to orchestrate for your school or organization.
On a larger scale, your community might also host an outdoor costume parade so that children still have the opportunity to dress up. They may also put together a Halloween movie night, set up as a kind of drive-in which allows participants to stay in their cars while enjoying watching movies on a large outdoor screen. Focus on activities that can be done outdoors, socially distanced, and without direct contact with others.
For more information and ideas for alternative celebrations, see the CDC’s recommendations for celebrating Halloween during the pandemic.