Halloween safety guidelines are normally focused on the need to wear reflective gear, navigating streets and sidewalks safely, avoiding fire hazards, and the like. While those measures are still every bit as important, this year safety concerns mostly involve how to protect trick or treaters from contracting COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published some guidance on Halloween for this year, grouping holiday activities into low-, moderate-, and high-risk categories. According to those guidelines, traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating and indoor Halloween parties are among the activities that present the highest COVID-19 risk.
With novel coronavirus infection rates expected to spike this fall, many parents are uncertain whether they will allow their kids to participate in any traditional Halloween activities at all.
According to the CDC, if you want to remain truly safe this year, limit Halloween activities to those that can be done inside your home with members of your household only. For instance, watching scary movies with your family, holding an indoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt, and carving pumpkins are some of the at-home activities the agency recommends.
Still, kids will be kids, and most will likely want to go trick-or-treating in the traditional manner. But is it really safe to go trick-or-treating in a pandemic?
Some health professionals told the Washington Post that, despite the CDC’s recommendation to avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, parents should assess the risk in their particular community.
For instance, crowded urban neighborhoods naturally pose more of a COVID-19 risk than rural or suburban neighborhoods where the houses are spread farther apart and people can more easily maintain a social distance.
Be aware of the COVID-19 infection rate in your area as well, one leading doctor told the Washington Post. Of course, trick-or-treating where the COVID rates are low presents a lower risk. In areas where infection rates are high, parents should seriously consider limiting Halloween activities to inside the home with other household members.
Individual health risks are also something parents should consider. If diabetes, chronic pulmonary conditions such as asthma and COPD, immune system disorders, etc. affect anyone in the family, then traditional trick-or-treating should be avoided this year.
Halloween parties that put you in contact with people from outside the household may pose an acceptably moderate risk if held outdoors and guests maintain proper social distancing. Wearing costumes that incorporate a mask and using hand sanitizer frequently can also reduce the risk at outdoor Halloween parties.
Parties held indoors with people from more than one household should be avoided this Halloween, experts advise.
One Phoenix pediatrician told the Washington Post that Halloween is a great activity for children’s mental health. She encourages parents and kids to participate in Halloween activities, making sure to follow all the COVID-19 safety measures.
“Not having routine really impacts kids, and as we come into the holidays, trick-or-treating and participating in Halloween activities can help kids with their minds,” Phoenix pediatrician Kristin Struble told the Washington Post.
For more information and ideas on how to safely celebrate Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and other holidays in the time COVID-19, visit the CDC’s help page.