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Posted on: October 1, 2020

Health Department Offers Guidance on Celebrating Halloween Safely During a Pandemic

Be safe and enjoy halloween

Halloween is typically celebrated in ways that include prolonged and repeated contact with non-household members. This year, because of COVID-19, it is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives.

The Orange County Health Department is offering the following guidance on how to celebrate Halloween without increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. This guidance discourages traditional trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating where treats are handed to children or children take candy from a shared bucket.

“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart said. “In-person Halloween festivities, and traditions such as trick-or-treating, pose risks to participants. It is impossible to know who has COVID-19 or who has been exposed to someone with the virus, making it both advisable and necessary to protect yourself and others by choosing safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween.”

Wearing face coverings and staying at least six feet away from people who are not part of your household are two of the most effective ways to avoid the spread of COVID-19.  Keep this in mind as you plan activities for Halloween. The Orange County Health Department offers the following guidance on how to celebrate Halloween during this pandemic. 

Lower Risk Activities

These lower risk activities can be safe alternatives:

  • Carve or decorate pumpkins with members of your household and display them.
  • Carve or decorate pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
  • Decorate your house, apartment, or living space.
  • Do a Halloween scavenger hunt: Give children lists of Halloween-themed items to look for while admiring Halloween decorations on houses at a distance.
  • Have a virtual Halloween costume contest.
  • Have a Halloween movie night in your household.
  • Have a trick-or-treat search in a scavenger hunt style in or around your home with members of your household.

Moderate Risk Activities

  • Participate in one-way trick-or-treating. Line up individually wrapped goodie bags (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard) for families to grab and go while social distancing. If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.
  • Have a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade, with people distanced more than 6 feet apart.
  • Attend an outdoor costume party where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart.
  • A costume mask 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 the costume mask may make it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Go 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 to lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visit pumpkin patches or orchards where hand sanitizer is used before touching pumpkins or picking apples, where mask use is enforced, and where people are able to maintain social distancing.
  • Have an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised to lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cookouts.

High Risk Activities

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus:

  • Traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.
  • Trunk-or-treat events where treats are handed out from trunks of cars that are lined up in large parking lots.
  • Crowded costume parties that are held indoors.
  • Indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming.
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
  • Use of alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.
  • Rural fall festival not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

Because traditional trick-or-treating is a high risk activity, traveling to residential neighborhoods for the purpose of door-to-door activity is strongly discouraged.

Personal Protection Measures

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Correctly wear a cloth face covering to prevent disease spread when outside your home and around others who are not part of your household.
  • Avoid confined spaces. Actively stay away from indoor spaces that don’t allow for easy distancing of at least 6 feet between you and others.
  • Avoid close contact. Stay at least 6 feet away (three or more adult steps) from all other people who are not part of your own household, especially while talking, eating, drinking, and singing.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often. 
  • Clean frequently touched items regularly. 
  • Stay home and away from others if you are sick or if you have been in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19.

Reliable Information

For the latest information and guidance relating to Orange County’s COVID-19 response:

 

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