The past year and a half have been scary enough, and with Halloween approaching, families will need to continue to avoid the fright of being exposed or spreading the Coronavirus. While some Halloween traditions may look different this year, there are still plenty of ways kids and families can have fun, get creative and maybe even create new family traditions.
Aside from the practices we have come so accustom to (social distancing, washing hands, and wearing a mask), consider some of these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a safe holiday gathering.
Keep food and drinks safe. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs.
Bring your own food and beverages. Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
Avoid in-person festivities. The CDC has issued guidelines on how to celebrate Halloween safely. Trick or treat in small groups outdoors. The guidelines list activities into low, moderate and high risk. The higher risk categories include door to door trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treating in large parking lots.
To help you enjoy a sweet and safe Halloween, remember to: track local transmission rates, take precautions like wearing a mask and washing your hands, and avoid activities that put you and the children around you at increased risk for COVID-19.
Lower Risk Halloween Activities:
· 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
Moderate Risk Halloween Activities:
- Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
- If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.
- 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.
- A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
- Do not 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.
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest.
- 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, and people are able to maintain social distancing.
- Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends.
- Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.
Higher Risk Halloween Activities:
· Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
· Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
· Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
· Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
· Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
· Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
· Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
Keep using cloth masks! A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask, the agency says. However, instead of doubling up on multiple masks, consider a Halloween themed cloth mask. A costume mask can protect against spreading the coronavirus if it's like a regular cloth mask: two or more layers of breathable fabric covering the nose and mouth, without gaps around the face.