CDC warns Americans to ‘avoid’ trick-or-treating for Halloween

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Group of kids with Halloween costumes walking to trick or treating (Getty Images)

Group of kids with Halloween costumes walking to trick or treating (Getty Images)

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control rolled out new guidance warning against door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween.

“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” the CDC said. “There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. 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.”

The CDC lists the following as “higher risk activities.” The public is asked to avoid these activites.

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Having trunk-or-treat 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
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

Communities may recommend ways to celebrate the holiday more safely, but the CDC says some of those activities still carry a “moderate risk,” such as the following:

  • 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 second 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
    • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) 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.
  • 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 screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • 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 friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
    • Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.

Instead, the CDC recommends other Halloween activities, like carving and decorating pumpkins.

Pumpkin carving can be done at home with members of your household or outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors and friends.

Decorating is always a safe and fun way to show your Halloween spirit.

Love dressing up? Why not host a virtual Halloween costume contest? That way you can still show off this year’s costume without needing to go to any crowded spaces.

The CDC also recommends holding an in-door scavenger hunt with household members or a scavenger hunt to spot Halloween decorations in your neighborhood.

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