As we near Halloween 2020 during a global pandemic, it’s becoming more and more apparent that we need to plan accordingly and manage expectations to keep everyone happy and healthy heading into the fall. In what is already a season full of germs spreading (back to school! flu season! runny allergy noses!), there are additional precautions that we can take to keep safe this Halloween and keep the holiday feeling special and fun for kids of any age.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out with their recommendations for a safe Halloween 2020, which advice ranging from low risk activities, higher risk ones and those in between. Here’s their advice for how to keep it spooky and safe this year (in addition to following all other guidance on mask-wearing, social distancing, knowing your “pod” of people you’re hanging out with and staying home if anyone in your household is feeling sick!)
“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” the CDC notes. “There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. 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.”
Before we get in to the activities and their risk levels, here’s some blanket useful guidance on masks and costumes that’s super useful to keep in mind before you attempt any out-of-house halloween activities.
“A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask,” according to the CDC. “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.”
Low Risk Activities
Among the activities deemed “low risk” and safer (especially when your neighborhood/area has a high number of cases or someone in your household is immunocompromised or vulnerable), the CDC cites these classic holiday at-home favorites:
- 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 (or you can do a virtual watch party online!)
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house
Moderate Risk Activities
These are activities that can be a bit more risky (especially if you live in a densely populated area or somewhere with cases spiking).Just remember to consult the CDC’s guidelines before attending an IRL gathering with people outside your immediate bubble!
- “One-way trick-or-treating” — where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab-and-go from a safe distance (just make sure goodie bags are prepared by someone who is thoroughly washing their hands, wearing a mask and being extra careful!)
- Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart.
- Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart.
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart (though, they recommend “greater distance” if there’s screaming going on because screaming can lead to a higher chance of spreading the virus.
- 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.
High Risk Activities (Probably pass on these invites!)
- “Regular” trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating — “participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door or 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 (especially if there’s screaming).
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household or traveling to rural communities outside your own.
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors.
While there are a number of our favorite traditional Halloween haunts that are probably off the table for this year, it’s much better to keep everyone healthy and reduce the risk of spreading the virus in your community. There are still a number of ways to keep the spirit of the season alive and make some lasting Halloween memories with your family.
Before you go, check out our favorite kid’s face masks (which are great for before, after and during the Halloween season):