What does Halloween look like during a pandemic?
On Monday night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines to help families stay safe during the this Halloween. The guidelines include a list ranking the relative risk level of certain traditions, like trick-or-treating and pumpkin-carving. While some are a go, others are a no.
Before the CDC issued its guidance, some cities had already started to limit the festivities. Los Angeles first banned trick-or-treating, then downgraded its prohibition to a recommendation. Other cities across the U.S canceled annual events or severely restricted the number of attendees allowed this year.
On social media, people wrote of possibly tossing treats to stationary children in their yards so the young don't have to leave their pandemic bubbles. Others considered long sticks with hooks for candy buckets at the end, offering social distance at collection time, or long chutes to send the candy through to dressed-up recipients.
Either way, it seems like people are eager to find a way to enjoy the holiday. Find out how you can safely celebrate the spookiest day of the year below:
Going to a Pumpkin Patch
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Moderate to high risk. If you're planning on going to a pumpkin patch or orchard, you should make sure people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wear masks and maintain social distancing, the CDC said.
Higher risk activities at the pumpkin patch include hayrides or tractor rides with others, as well as indoor haunted houses. The CDC also says you should not travel far to get to a pumpkin patch, as you risk potentially spreading the virus to other communities.
Low risk. This is a perfectly safe activity if you're carving with just the people who live in your house. Or, you can also carve outside with neighbors and friends, as long as everyone remains 6 feet apart.
Attending Halloween Parades
Moderate risk. If you're going to go, be sure that protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart, the CDC said.
Going to Halloween Parties
Moderate to high risk. A small, outdoor, socially distanced Halloween party is a relatively good way to celebrate the holiday, according to the CDC.
The CDC does not recommend any indoor parties of any kind.
Wearing Costumes and Masks
Moderate risk. While the costumes themselves are not necessarily dangerous, a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. However, wearing a face mask underneath a costume mask can be dangerous because it may not be as breathable, the CDC said. They recommend scrapping a costume mask and just wearing a Halloween-themed face mask.
Moderate to high risk. For the safest form of trick-or-treating, the CDC recommends 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).
The traditional form of trick-or-treating with kids going door to door is a high risk activity that should be avoided, the CDC said.
It's also important to note that if people are screaming, they should be further than the usually recommended six feet apart, according to the CDC.
Other Low Risk Halloween Ideas
While perhaps "non-traditional," the CDC came up with some other safe ways to celebrate the holiday.
One is a Halloween scavenger hunt where you give kids a list of Halloween-themed things to look for and take them on a walk around the neighborhood to admire decorations and look for their items. Or, if you want something closer to trick-or-treating, you could hide candy around the house and have kids look for it, like an Easter egg hunt.
Another option is to take things online with a virtual costume contest with friends and family. Or you could do a Halloween-themed movie night at home with the people who live with you. An outdoor movie night with friends is also an option, but the CDC says it's then a moderate risk activity.
For more information, visit the CDC website here.