Halloween has been a hot topic for months in homes where kids are eager to celebrate the holiday. But many parents have been uncertain how to proceed, wondering what is and what isn't safe during the pandemic.
Now the Centers for Disease Control has weighed in on celebrating Halloween, releasing new guidelines and rating activities as low risk, moderate risk, or high risk.
Among their recommendations: People should avoid traditional trick or treating, and wearing of costume masks. Here are their complete recommendations:
Lower risk Halloween activities
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.
Moderate risk Halloween activities
- 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 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. 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.
- 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. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory 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 or friends, with people spaced at least 6 feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
Higher risk Halloween activities
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 a 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.
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.
Read more about the CDC holiday guidelines, including in regards to celebrating Día de los Muertos and Thanksgiving.