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Halloween & COVID-19: It’s Possible to Have Fun and Stay Safe!

Published in Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases, For the Health of It Author: Jill Amsberry, DO, CentraCare – Plaza Clinic Pediatrics

The traditions of Halloween will look different this year as we aim to protect our community and help to stop the spread of COVID-19. This doesn't mean “canceling” Halloween – it means thinking about it differently and finding ways kids can still have fun while lowering the risk of transmission.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined lower-, medium- and higher-risk activities. And they offer safety tips when participating in any risk activity.

Higher-risk activities

  • Trunk-or-treat (social distancing is difficult to maintain)
  • Indoor Halloween parties
  • Haunted houses
  • Door-to-door trick-or-treating

Medium-risk activities

No-contact neighborhood trick-or-treating is considered a medium-risk activity for Halloween night, according to MDH. This could include putting individual goodie bags at the end of your driveway or at the edge of your yard for families to grab and go, so that hand-to-hand contact is limited.

Some neighborhoods are planning to distribute treats through PVC tubing, to eliminate kids grabbing treats from a bowl. If you do plan to do no-contact trick-or-treating, wait at a distance for other groups to leave the home before approaching.

Before celebrating, consider the following precautions

  • If you may have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to the virus, the CDC advises not participating in giving out candy to trick-or-treaters, even if no contact is involved.
  • Don’t rely on a costume mask to limit the spread of COVID-19. Many costume masks are either one layer of thin fabric or plastic with holes, and neither is adequate for spread prevention.
  • Avoid costume masks altogether in favor of cloth masks.
  • Don’t try to double up with a costume mask and a cloth mask, which could be dangerous.

The only way an activity is considered low-risk is to exclude unnecessary contact with others in hopes to limit the potential for cross-exposure — particularly as Minnesotans see COVID-19 cases rising.

Lower-risk activities

  • Pumpkin carving and a family movie night with treats
  • Neighborhood outside get-together to carve pumpkins
  • Halloween-themed scavenger hunt
  • Virtual Halloween costume contest

If you participate in any activities with friends or family outside of your home, wear face coverings — whether it is indoor or outdoor gatherings. Also, do your best to keep a distance of six feet away from others whenever possible.

And when the festivities are over, and before you eat any candy or treats, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.