No Screaming Allowed! Halloween Tips from Seattle & King County Public Health and the CDC

Boy, being a kid in 2020 is a bummer from socially distant graduation ceremonies to isolated birthday parties too, and now, damned-demic Halloween.

Booooo, cackle and a big old hiss to this virus..

However, as Seattle & King County Health point out, Halloween still has some spooky celebration options since many activities can be outside and mask-wearing is part of the holiday.

First off, the basics; Limit close contact with other people, limit touching points, practice good hand hygiene and wear a mask. Remember, 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 it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask. A quick search on Etsy shows many creepy Halloween options. Or if you are particularly crafty (get it, crafty?), you can make your own. Forget pumpkin carving; the fad for 2020 is mask making! Make sure the mask snugly covers the nose and mouth and have kids decorate cloth face coverings with fabric markers or ghoulish embellishments to go with their costumes!

So, what about good old trick or treating? Covid presents some new challenges.  Going door-to-door brings people into close contact, especially if people gather and cluster on doorsteps and walkways. Making sure everyone is wearing the right face coverings or masks is also chillingly difficult. So, King County Public Health has some ideas to make trick or treating safer.

Since close contact is what creates a more significant risk of exposure and seeing that children line up or group together outside the door, the suggestions to limit exposure are:

  • Use tape to mark waiting spots 6 feet apart on the way up to your door.
  • Use fun ways to give the candy while staying 6 feet apart, like slide the candy down a wrapping paper tube into their trick-or-treat bags.
  • Individually wrap goodie bags and line them up for families to grab and go while staying socially distanced (such as at the end of a driveway or 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.
  • When you answer the door for trick-or-treaters, wear a mask.
  • Carry hand sanitizer so that kids can wash their hands while trick-or-treating. Wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.
  • Set aside any candy that comes from outside your household for 24 hours before allowing your little goblins to handle it. Perhaps purchase some candy ahead of time to make this easier.
Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

If traditional trick or treating makes you devilishly uncomfortable, there are lower-risk options.

  • Organize a nightmare neighborhood costume parade with social distancing.
  • Decorate yards or your neighborhood.
  • Do a Halloween scavenger hunt by giving your kids lists of Halloween-themed things (like different types of decorations) to look for while they walk outdoors, keeping a distance from people outside your household.
  • Hold a frightening costume party online.
  • Exchange candy with families you know. Do a drop-off delivery at their doorstep for a Halloween surprise for the kids.
  • Trick-or-treat inside your home by hiding candy for your kids to find. If your kids like Halloween jump scares, hide yourself, too.
  • Have a spooky movie night or a fiendish Halloween craft party with the family.
  • 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

Moderate risk activities would include:

  • 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. If there will be screaming, stay farther apart. People spray tiny droplets when they scream. How ghastly!
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart

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

  • 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 (So this is a bummer for adults too! Double booo!)
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

So, see there are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. Fellow residents thank you for doing whatever you can to reduce the risk of COVID for neighbors, children, and everyone in the community. Have a happy Halloween season!

[Click here for more CDC tips for holiday gatherings]

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