Q: With COVID-19 still disrupting all kinds of plans, I’m wondering about Halloween celebrations this year. Is there any way to safely celebrate Halloween in 2020?
A: How to safely celebrate this year is a question that’s frightening Halloween lovers all over the globe. Fortunately, the answer is not all that scary. With some flexibility and wise precautions, Halloween can still be a frightfully fun day for the entire family.
Here’s all you need to know about celebrating Halloween safely in the era of COVID-19.
Should I take my family trick-or-treating this year?
According to many medical health professionals, the answer depends largely on where you live.
“In an area where there’s still ongoing community spread [and circumstances] haven’t gotten to the point where things are opening up again, I don’t think trick-or-treating is a great idea,” says Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York’s Westmed Medical Group. “In areas where the community prevalence is lower, I think it’s OK to plan to trick-or-treat, but it’s going to be a different experience than it was last year.”
What safety precautions do I need to take when trick-or-treating?
If you plan on taking your kids trick-or-treating this year, or making the rounds yourself, here’s how you can keep safe from infection:
- Stick with family: The risk of transmission grows exponentially when people spend extended time with members of another household. It’s best to keep your trick-or-treat group to family only this year.
- Keep it small: If your child insists on trick-or-treating with neighbors or friends, keep the group as small as possible. Kesh recommends limiting groups to three or four members and, preferably, sticking with families that are also careful about social distancing.
- Mask up: Halloween costumes make following this coronavirus precaution super-easy.
- Keep face-to-face exposure to a minimum: If possible, trick-or-treat from a distance. Knock on doors and then retreat down the steps. The homeowner can toss you your treats instead of handing them over. The less close interaction you have with others, the lower your risk of infection.
- Sanitize often: Keep some hand sanitizer with you at all times and soap up after touching germy surfaces, like doorknobs or communal treat baskets. It’s equally important for everyone to wash up once you get home, especially before digging into any treats.
How can I safely invite trick-or-treaters to my home?
The thought of hordes of kids traipsing through your doors and reaching grubby hands into a communal basket of candy might scare you, but that doesn’t mean you have to lock your doors on Halloween night and be the neighborhood party-pooper.
“The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to limit your interaction with others as much as possible,” says Molly Hyde, an infection control practitioner. “If you are going to hand out candy in person, make sure you are wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth when giving out candy.”
If you’d like to be extra cautious, you can avoid face-to-face interaction with trick-or-treaters by setting up a bowl of candy outside and letting your visitors help themselves. Keep a bottle of sanitizer nearby, or a box of disposable gloves, with a helpful sign to remind kids to keep their germs to themselves. You can also choose to ditch the bowl and space individual treats out on your front porch with a sign instructing kids to take one. We've even seen the creative solution of creating candy chutes that run from your front door to the side walk, so you can just slide the candy to the kids and keep the fun.
At the end of the night, it’s best to disinfect doorknobs, doorbells, buzzers, outdoor railings and any other surfaces that might have been touched by dozens of trick-or-treaters.
Can I throw a Halloween party this year?
Crowded indoor parties are out, but with a bit of creativity, you can still celebrate Halloween with friends. Here’s how:
Choose an outdoor venue, such as a local park, and invite your friends to your Quarant-een bash.
Have everyone bring along their Halloween costumes, comfortable lawn chairs, hot autumn beverages and individual party bags, or packaged treats, in their trunks.
At the party, have everyone park so the trunk of every car is in full view. Set up the chairs at safe distances and let everyone show off their costumes.
Pop open the trunks for “trunk-or-treating,” corona-style!
Don’t let COVID-19 scare all the fun out of Halloween this year. With the proper precautions, you can spook the entire neighborhood this Halloween and still keep it safe.