Celebrating Halloween Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Halloween drawing

Many are hearing that Halloween is canceled this year. That is not the case. You can still celebrate Halloween but a little differently since large crowds and interacting with people you usually do not interact with is still a risk for getting the virus that causes COVID-19. The CDC has given some tips and suggestions for having a safe Halloween this year without having to forgo it completely.

First off, if you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.

These lower-risk activities can be safe alternatives:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

These are moderate risk activities:  Keep in mind if screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
    • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade or outdoor costume party where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
    • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. 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.
    • 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.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart.

Avoid these higher-risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household

Written By

Cathy Hohenstein, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionCathy Hohenstein, R.D.Area Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Food Safety and Preparation, Nutrition Call Cathy Email Cathy N.C. Cooperative Extension, Buncombe County Center
Updated on Oct 7, 2020
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