Halloween and COVID-19

Mark L. Friedman, MD, FACEP, FACP

COVID-19 has affected many of our beloved holiday traditions and Halloween 2020 will be no exception. Many doctors and parents are questioning the safety of normal trick-or-treating and costume gatherings — and for good reason. The CDC has categorized trick-or-treating, crowded indoor parties, and more as high-risk activities this Halloween. 

The safest thing to do this year is stay home (particularly if someone in your household has recently been involved in a high-risk activity or potentially exposed to COVID-19). 

 

Alternative Halloween Celebrations

You’re not a scrooge if you decide you’re not handing out candy or participating in trick-or-treating this year. Especially if you or a loved one is immunocompromised. There are plenty of other ways to celebrate and make memories. Here are a few ideas to make this Halloween one to remember: 

  • Have candy at home and carve out some time for Halloween arts and crafts
  • Host a virtual costume party.
  • Attend a drive-in.
  • Tell ghost stories.
  • Bake ghoulish treats together.
  • Carve pumpkins and watch scary movies.
  • Have a skele-fun door decorating contest in your neighborhood.
  • Try a scavenger hunt. Let the kids look for treats you’ve hidden around like Easter eggs. 
  • Have a family board game night.

If you do, however, decide to go out this Halloween, there are easy steps you can take to make it a little safer. 

 

Traditional Trick-or-Treating Safety

There are many ways to decrease the risks associated with traditional Halloween activities. Maintaining social distancing and wearing an actual mask (not a costume mask) are simple ways to lessen transmission risks. Here’s a handy checklist for traditional celebration safety:

  • Help children maintain mask hygiene and social distancing (6 feet at minimum).
  • Avoid large groups even while trick-or-treating outside.
  • Put markers along your sidewalk or driveway to encourage social distancing and avoid a pileup at your front door.
  • Bring the trusty hand sanitizer!
  • Wait to eat candy until you’re at home and you have washed your hands thoroughly. 
  • If you’re staying home to hand out candy, wash your hands frequently. 
  • Consider pre-packed, individual plastic baggies of candy instead of a candy bowl. 

 

If you develop symptoms after Halloween, consider getting tested and follow the CDC-recommended steps. Remember to check local ordinances before planning your Halloween as many events have been canceled or have moved the fun online. 

Halloween is going to be unique this year, but there are many ways to have a frighteningly good time and do it responsibly. With simple precautions, like social distancing and proper use of face masks, we can still have an eerie-sistible holiday and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

 

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