Many annual festivities have been canceled this year due to COVID-19, including Easter egg hunts, summer festivals, and 4th of July activities. With Halloween fast approaching and the virus still going strong, haunted houses and fall carnivals are being canceled, and trick-or-treating will need to be modified as well.
According to the CDC, new safety guidelines discourage children from going door-to-door to trick-or-treat. The risk comes from spending prolonged time in close contact with friends or neighbors who don’t live in your home. Other activities considered high-risk by the CDC include:
- Trunk-or-treat events, where candy is handed out to large groups from cars
- Indoor costume parties
- Indoor haunted houses
- Hayrides/tractor rides with people who are not in your household
- Going to a fall festival outside of your community
No trick-or-treating can be disappointing news for kids who have been preparing their costumes for months.
However, celebrating Halloween is not entirely out of the question. Districts and counties across the country are putting out their own guidelines for trick-or-treating during the pandemic in response to the severity of the virus in the surrounding area.
It is important to be safe during Halloween and follow the guidelines in your community, but there are a few ways you can be safe while trick-or-treating without losing the experience completely.
Exchange Candy at Least 6-Feet Apart
Instead of approaching houses for treats, ask neighbors to leave goodies on their driveway or at the edge of their front yard. This way, neighbors can still greet families while children get their candy. If you want to hand out candy this year, leave it in a bowl or create individual goodie bags and leave them outside at a safe distance from your front door. If you make goodie bags, be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after you make them.
Maintain Clean Hands
No research supports the virus spreading on wrapped candies, so there is no need to sanitize each treat before consumption. The key to safety here is maintaining clean hands and ensuring your child doesn’t touch their face while trick-or-treating. Don’t let them eat their candy until they get home. Carry hand sanitizer with you and have everyone use it after visiting each house. An alternative to hand sanitizer is wearing gloves with your costume. When you get home, make sure everyone washes their hands for at least 20 seconds before digging into their goodies.
Keep Face Masks On
And that doesn’t include costume face masks. While you are trick-or-treating, make sure you and your children keep your cloth masks on at all times, especially when coming into contact with others even at a distance. Wearing a costume mask over your cloth mask can make it hard to breathe, so the best option is to wear a Halloween-themed cloth mask to match your outfit.
Avoid Congregating in One Area
It’s easy to get caught up talking with neighbors and friends while trick-or-treating, but be aware of how long you spend at each house and how many people are around you and your family. Avoid spending prolonged time on doorsteps and porches to allow others to visit. Likewise, avoid gathering in any crowds with people who do not live in your home. If possible, accompany your child when they go trick-or-treating, regardless of their age, to make sure they maintain social distance and keep their mask on.
Drop Off Goodie Bags for Friends & Family
If trick-or-treating is highly discouraged in your area, you can do it in reverse! Instead of going to houses to pick up candy, visit homes to leave treats instead. Consider dropping off Halloween-themed goodie bags for friends on their porch or having a “drive-by parade” to show off costumes to family members. That way, your kids can still get their candy and wear their costumes for others to see.
Be Aware of Other Hazards
As always, trick-or-treating at night can be hazardous if cars cannot see children crossing the street. Brighter costumes are always better to help your child stand out rather than blending into the darkness. Make sure to set ground rules and ensure your kids stick to sidewalks and don’t cross the street unless there is a crosswalk. When your children go out, have them take a flashlight and wear reflective gear such as neon bands, sashes, or vests so drivers can see them.
As we navigate the new normal during this pandemic, celebrating traditions like trick-or-treating will inevitably look different. Check your area to see which zone your county is in and follow any guidelines put out by your city. Even if you decide not to partake in trick-or-treating this year, you can still celebrate Halloween in a variety of ways by carving pumpkins, hosting candy scavenger hunts in your backyard, or making your own homemade candy.
What precautions are you taking while trick-or-treating this year?
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.