Choosing costumes, decorating pumpkins and getting special treats brings joy to many children at Halloween. To keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, some Halloween traditions may need to look a bit different this year.
Many traditional Halloween activities — like collecting candy door-to-door — can be high risk for spreading COVID-19. But there are plenty of ways to have fun while avoiding the scare of being exposed to or spreading the virus.
Consider some fun alternatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), listed below, that pose a lower risk during the current pandemic. Most importantly, while participating in these activities, keep doing what you have been doing: avoiding large gatherings, keeping a distance of 6 feet from others, wearing cloth face coverings (think superhero!), and washing hands often.
These lower-risk activities can be safe alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household
- 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 your household
- 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 include:
- 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)
- If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
- 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 and friends, with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
The CDC recommends avoiding these higher-risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus:
- Participating in traditional trick-or-treating, where treats are handed to children who go door to door
- Having trunk-or-treat events, 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
- Traveling to a fall festival that’s not in your community, if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
The holiday may look different this year— like so many things in 2020 — but Halloween can still be a fun experience for kids of all ages. It just might take a little more creativity.
Note: If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.