With Halloween just around the corner, it’s important to remember that special occasions don’t diminish the risks of contracting COVID-19. And although it’s heartbreaking to see children disappointed, depending on where you live, it may be a better choice to cancel trick-or-treating than to risk people’s health.
But if your state, local or territorial rules allow it and you still want to celebrate the holiday, consider making some adjustments to ensure everyone’s safety. Especially since many traditional activities can pose a risk of spreading the virus.
If you want to go out or entertain your children
- When you’re visiting pumpkin patches or orchards, bring hand sanitizer and make sure everyone uses it before and after touching anything (in addition to wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing).
- When trick-or-treating isn’t an option, consider organizing a virtual Halloween costume contest or a scavenger-hunt candy search with your household members in and around your home.
- Consider having an outdoor movie night with friends or neighbors (while maintaining a proper distance—which should be greater than normal if you think screaming or shouting will be taking place).
- Avoid group activities that pose a high risk of virus transmission, such as bobbing for apples, decorating cupcakes and cookies or smashing a Halloween piñata.
- If your area doesn’t allow for trick-or-treating, consider doing a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood, with children looking for fall or Halloween-themed things as they walk from house to house admiring decorations from a distance.
- Check your local fire or police station to see if they’re holding a Halloween event. Usually, they decorate the hall, have themed activities and provide a safer alternative to trick-or-treating.
- If you do go trick-or-treating, it’s more important than ever to remind children that if the outside lights are not on, or if there is a sign on the residence, they should not approach the door.
- Make sure that your children wash their hands before they leave home and have them disinfect their hands regularly. They should wash their hands again when they arrive back home and before they eat any candy.
- Remember that a costume mask does not make it safe unless it’s made of two or more layers of fabric that cover the mouth and nose without creating gaps.
- When creating costumes for your children, don’t make them wear a costume mask over a cloth mask as this can make it hard to breathe. Consider costumes that incorporate protective masks or use a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
- Make sure your children don’t touch anything other than the candy and always maintain a safe distance from others.
If you want to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters
- Buy candy several days in advance and don’t handle it before Halloween. This should be more than enough time for any potential virus on the surface of the wrapper to die.
- Remember that leaving a container of loose candy for children to rummage through is not a good idea because no matter what precautions you took setting out the candy, it will become contaminated once the children put their hands in and dig around.
- Create individual packages for children to pick up. This way, children won’t handle candies that might later be picked up by someone else. This will also allow for social distancing to be observed.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing the goodie bags and then again before lining them up for families to pick up or before handing them out.
- Do an elaborate yard display and make it interactive by incorporating the candy into the decorations. This will prevent children from handling candies that will later be picked up by others.
- If you usually host parties and want to do something for your friends or family (and your local laws allow you to do so), consider a block party or a costume party held outdoors, such as a one-way, walk-through haunted forest. But make sure that everyone wears cloth masks and keeps a safe social distance that should be greater than normal if you think screaming or shouting will be taking place.
Remember that with all the excitement and potentially hectic schedules of the holiday, it’s easy to minimize risks or to simply forget to wash your hands or maintain your distance. So don’t ignore safety requirements even if it’s “just once”, because “the children are so excited”, or because it’s outdoors (just because it’s outdoors doesn’t eliminate risk). Keep your loved ones safe.