House parties and door-to-door trick-or-treating are not great options.
As the holidays approach in 2020, many people are wondering how to celebrate during an active pandemic. At first glance, Halloween seems like it might be one of the safer holidays. After all, lots of people wear costume masks, and trick-or-treating usually happens outdoors. However, experts are urging Americans to opt for safer Halloween activities instead.
The Risks of Traditional Halloween Activities
The things you often associate with Halloween are actually high-risk activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes house parties and door-to-door trick-or-treating.
The risks of house parties are pretty clear. You’ve got a lot of people crowding indoors, where ventilation may be poor and social distancing is difficult. Additionally, activities that include alcohol tend to worsen risk because people may be less cautious about following guidelines after indulging in a “witch’s brew.”
As for door-to-door trick-or-treating, the risks are less obvious. You’re outdoors, right? Well, trick-or-treating exposes you to people from dozens—even hundreds—of households. Plus, many different hands digging into candy bowls could result in a spread of COVID-19 germs as well.
What About Masks?
For months, people have joked that all they need to do is pull on a dramatic Halloween mask and they’ll be prepared for COVID-19. Unfortunately, the CDC warns against using costume masks in place of cloth face coverings. The latter provides at least two layers of fabric directly against the nose and mouth. This helps to inhibit the outflow of respiratory droplets as you talk and breathe.
In other words, a house party where everyone is required to wear a costume mask of their favorite monster is *not* the answer. (By the way, here are face mask mistakes that increase the spread of COVID-19.)
Safer Halloween Activities
The best thing to do is embrace the fact that Halloween is going to look a little different in 2020. You can still have a ghoulish and fang-tastic time, even if you have to take a different approach.
Here are the lower-risk Halloween activities the CDC recommends during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Carving or painting pumpkins: Do this indoors with the people you live with, outdoors with friends at a safe distance, or via video chat with loved ones.
- A virtual costume contest: If you love to dress up but have nowhere to go, try this option. It’s the safest way to show off your costume.
- An outdoor, small-group, socially distanced costume parade: This one can be a little riskier depending on how you plan it. For the safest option, keep numbers very small (just a handful of families), and mandate cloth face coverings.
- Decorating your home or yard: You could even turn this into a neighborhood competition. Go all out, and have kids create Halloween-themed crafts to add a personal touch.
- Have a scary movie night: Watch a movie with the people you live with, or have a virtual viewing party with friends. Get festive with treats shaped like mummies and witch hats. (Check out these Halloween-themed snack ideas.)
- Look for drive-through experiences: Some communities are offering “haunted roads” or “drive-through haunted houses.” Just do your research to ensure COVID-19 precautions are in place.
- For trick-or-treating, take inspiration from Easter egg hunts: Instead of going to door to door, hide candy for your kids throughout the house (or yard, weather permitting) for your kids to hunt for. You could even decorate and repurpose your Easter eggs by painting them or adding Halloween stickers.
Even with these safer activities, remember to continue following the recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID-19.