7 tricks for Halloween at home amid COVID-19 and 7 tips to safely pass out treats
Take health precautions and celebrate Halloween on Saturday and Día de los Muertos, which starts Sunday and continues into Monday, safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Health officials strongly discourage traditional trick-or-treating and urge parents to keep children home or at safe distances from people not in their household.
If parents allow children to trick-or-treat door-to-door, health officials urge they wear personal protection gear, avoid large gatherings and practice proper hygiene.
Public health officials at Shasta County Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released lists of low-risk Halloween activities families with children can plan at home:
- Carve, paint or otherwise decorate pumpkins indoors with members of your household, or outdoors at a safe distance with neighbors or friends.
- Throw a daytime scavenger hunt. Give children a list of spooky-themed outdoor decorations in their neighborhood. Children can check items off the list while they keep a social distance.
- Have a virtual costume contest on an online platform like Zoom or Facebook.
- Host a spooky movie night with people in your home.
- Have a candy hunt in your home with household members — or if there are several adults at home, children can trick-or-treat from room to room.
- Bake Halloween cookies or other treats. Have children decorate them.
- Have a virtual Halloween dance party.
North State public health departments and the CDC issued recommendations for parents who allow children to trick-or-treat door to door:
- Have children wear protective face coverings. Don’t share costume masks. The CDC warns people not to use costume masks in place of cloth masks unless the costume mask is made of "two or more layers of breathable fabric" that covers the person's mouth and nose, and doesn’t leave gaps around their face. It also recommends people not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask; it may make it hard to breathe. Consider a Halloween-themed protective cloth mask instead.
- Only people in their household should escort children while they trick-or-treat.
- Everyone who goes out should wash their hands carefully before and after trick-or-treating. Use hand sanitizer after ringing doorbells and cover coughs and sneezes.
- Everyone should avoid touching their eyes, nose, mouth and face coverings while out.
- Choose to go trick-or-treating when foot traffic is less crowded.
- Wait until the group ahead leaves the walkway and doorway before approaching a home.
- Stay six feet or more from doors. Children should put their candy bucket or bag by the door, back up six feet and wave when the person at home opens the door.
- Children should wait until they get home to eat treats. While the risk of getting COVID-19 from food packaging is low, health officials advise parents wipe off packaging with soap and water, or let the candy sit in a safe place for 24 to 72 hours.
- Don't allow children to trick-or-treat if they have been around someone who has or might have COVID-19. Screen everyone in your household for symptoms before allowing kids to trick-or-treat.
Health officials also released recommendations to those who plan to give out candy:
- Distribute only pre-packaged candy. Make sure packaging is sealed.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water before you handle candy.
- Wear a face covering while handing out treats.
- Draw a line six feet from your door with chalk or tape so children know how far back to stand.
- Use tongs to give out candy.
- Throughout the evening, frequently disinfect touched surfaces like doorbells.
- Don't hand out candy if you have been around someone who has or might have COVID-19. Screen yourself for symptoms before giving out candy.
For more information on low-, medium- and high-risk activities during Halloween and Día de los Muertos go to https://bit.ly/3otuKKi.
Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.