Holidays have been looking a little different this year, and Halloween will be no exception. What can you do to keep your trick-or-treaters safe during the viral pandemic? Here’s what local and national experts have to say.
Is it riskier to trick-or-treat this year?
Short answer: yes. Any activity that puts members of your household in contact with people outside your household increases your risk of catching COVID-19. Luckily, health experts recommend several things you can do to help manage that risk and help you decide what Halloween celebrations are right for your family this year.
“As your family considers whether or not to participate in trick-or-treating this year, talk with neighbors and those you intend to visit and decide how to best keep everyone safe,” writes Utah State University Extension Professor Kathleen Riggs.
It’s important to remember the basics of how the virus spreads when planning trick-or-treating: Getting close to someone outside your household, especially when indoors, increases your chances of catching the virus.
“Be aware that the more closely you interact with others and the longer the interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread,” Riggs writes.
“Stay 6 feet away from people who do not live with you.”
Skip the tricks
If you decide to send your kids trick-or-treating, talk with them to help them understand that more people than usual may have chosen not to participate. With more than a thousand estimated active cases in Cache County, many households will be in quarantine or self-isolation and shouldn’t be coming into contact with visitors.
For your own house, if you’re not participating, try to communicate that clearly to people who come to your door.
“If you opt not to have trick-or-treaters come to your home this year, place a sign noting you are not handing out treats due to health and safety guidelines,” Riggs writes. “You can make it in the shape of a headstone, pumpkin or other Halloween objects to make it fun and friendly as you convey your wishes.”
If you’re accepting visitors, on the other hand, Riggs recommends signaling this by making sure the path to your doorstep is clear and bright.
“Make it obvious you want guests, and be sure they have plenty of light,” Riggs writes. “Consider placing a pathway of tea lights inside white paper bags, or cut out jack-o-lanterns and place along the driveway or sidewalk leading to your door.”
It may be possible to set up no-contact trick-or-treating with a bit of advance planning: The CDC suggests setting up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
Even outside of trick-or-treating, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask any time you may come in contact with someone outside of your household, with the exception of children under 2 years old and anyone who has trouble breathing. On Halloween, the agency suggests making cloth masks a part of costumes, but not wearing a costume mask that covers your cloth mask.
Other ways to celebrate
While many organized Halloween events have been canceled, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate beyond trick-or-treating. The CDC recommends decorating pumpkins and walking around the neighborhood to see other decorations as a no-contact tradition.
Other suggestions from the agency include going on an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt or visiting a corn maze, pumpkin patch or orchard.