CDC on Halloween coronavirus guidelines: Avoid usual trick-or-treating


This 2017 photo released by Charles Fremont shows a home decorated for Halloween in Webster Groves, Mo. On a typical Halloween in the St. Louis suburb, neighbors go all out to decorate their houses and yards with spooky skeletons, tombstones and jack-o’-lanterns as up to 1,000 people pack the blocked-off street to carry on an old tradition: Tell a joke, get a treat. This Halloween is going to be vastly different for many. Parents and governments are weighing whether door-to-door trick-or-treating can safely happen. (Charles Fremont via AP)

ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — Halloween isn’t canceled due to the pandemic but families celebrating upcoming fall and winter holidays may have to adjust their time-honored traditions, according to guidance released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In its advisory, the CDC recommendations are “meant to supplement — not replace — any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply.”

Considerations of factors that create various risks when deciding whether to celebrate virtually or in-person include community levels of coronavirus, location, duration and numbers at the gathering, as well as the behaviors of attending prior and during get-together.

For families celebrating Halloween, the CDC cautions that many activities can be high-risk for spreading COVID-19. The nation’s health protection agency categorizes activities into lower, moderate and higher risk activities.

Halloween activities that are virtual or that include members of your household are lower risk. Adhering to social distancing guidelines and engaging in activities outdoor also tend to be lower in risk.

For those spooky revelers that insist on trick-or-treating, the CDC says participating in the tradition one-way — where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for grab and go at the end of a driveway or yard is a safer bet than the traditional distribution of treats by hand, door to door.

Attending a costume party held outdoors while wearing masks is preferred over attending a crowded Halloween house party.

Alternatives to a higher risk visit to an indoor haunted house, what about an open-air, one-way haunted forest where visitors are staggers 6 feet apart? But if screaming is likely to occur, make sure to increase the distancing beyond just 6 feet.

If you’re visiting a pumpkin patch or orchard be sure to use hand sanitizer before picking out a gourd or a basket of apples. And tractor and hayrides are safest with only members of your household.

Also, important to note — a Halloween costume mask does not substitute for a protective cloth mask.

The CDC has outlined lower risk activities that can be safe alternatives, as well as which activities have moderate or high risk.

Low risk activities

– 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 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)

– 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

– 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

– 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

– Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement 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


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