Did you really think the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was going to let you enjoy Halloween this year?
No way. The CDC has released a list of tips for how to spend October 31 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and traditional trick-or-treating is noticeably absent from its list of recommendations. In fact, the agency specifically says people who may have COVID-19—or might have been exposed to someone who does—should not pass out candy to trick-or-treaters or go to any in-person Halloweens events.
“Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door” is high-risk and should be avoided, the CDC says.
Other high-risk activities, according to the CDC, include indoor haunted houses, hayrides, and tractor rides with people you don’t live with. It also frowns upon “trunk-or-treats” (when candy is passed out from cars in parking lots) and attending autumn festivals outside your community if you live in a high-COVID-19 area.
Before you misappropriate the Christmas term grinch, know that the CDC has suggested lower-risk alternatives, such as:
- a virtual Halloween costume contest
- a social-distanced pumpkin carving
- a Halloween movie night with members of your household
- an outdoor scavenger hunt
On the CDC’s list of moderate-risk activities are outdoor costume parades or Halloween parties; going to a pumpkin patch with hand sanitizer while wearing a mask and maintaining social-distancing rules; and what it calls “one-way trick-or-treating,” where individually wrapped goodie bags (prepared by hands that were washed with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds) are left at the far end of a driveway or yard for visitors to take.
Don’t think that Disney or Hillary Clinton costume mask can do double duty.
“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,” the CDC website warns. “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.”
And for those of you who need a real fright in order to celebrate, visit a haunted forest—not a typo—where mask and social-distancing rules are in place. The CDC has deemed that only a moderate risk, albeit with one important addendum: “If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.”
You can check out the CDC’s full guidance here.