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So many of us have been anticipating October. Right about this time, there begins to be a bit of a nip in the air. The leaves begin to fall. And we dust off those bins of decorations and start adorning our front doors with foliage, gourds and ghouls.
Yes, it’s fall time, which means Halloween is just around the corner. But one thing is a little different this year. Yep, that’s right. COVID-19. Halloween is a great time for tricks and treats, but it’s not for getting COVID 19. Activities typically associated with Halloween are now considered high risk.
“As we now do in our new normal, it’s important to assess your personal risk when deciding to participate in any holiday festivities this season,” said Brandie Beuthin, RN, an infection prevention director at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. “Make sure to check how widespread infection is in your area in addition to limiting prolonged time in close contact with others.”
While some parents are making alternative plans and getting creative, others may be conflicted on what to do. Here are some creative ways to keep the “tricks and treats” in Halloween but also ensure you and your family are smart and safe this year.
1. Contact-Free Scavenger Hunts
Set up a socially distanced scavenger hunt around your neighborhood to look for Halloween-themed items on a list. Give prizes away for items found. If you want to stay close to home, consider a hunt-style trick-or-treat and hide candy and items around the house and yard.
2. Pumpkin Carving Contests
Do you have some artists in the family? Consider carving and/or decorating pumpkins with members of your family. If you are able to maintain a safe distance outdoors, invite some neighbors and friends to carve and/or decorate. Just remember safety first when it comes to carving—especially with little ones.
3. Neighborhood Decorating Contest
Do you have a Griswold in your neighborhood? Why not amp up the Halloween spirit with a neighborhood decorating contest? Set up rules and a virtual voting committee and let the creativity fly. Then neighbors can walk outdoors admiring decorations from a distance.
4. Bring on the Boos
Have you been Booed? Do reverse trick-or-treating by dropping off small gift bags of candy on the porches of your neighbors and friends.
5. Neighborhood Car Parade
Bring the spirit of Mardi Gras parades to Halloween. Organize a socially distanced neighborhood car parade and give out treat bags or toss candy as kids and parents wait out front of their homes. Just remember to wear your cloth mask and wash hands thoroughly before and after tossing candy. Check out more tips in the Do’s and Don’ts below.
A few moderate-risk activities
6. Outdoor Costume Party
If you are able to maintain more than six feet apart, host a costume party outdoors with a few families and friends. Remember to wear a cloth mask if you are unable to maintain social distancing outside. Lower your risk by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.
7. One-Way Trick-or-Treating
Put together individually wrapped goodies and set them on a table outside of your home for families to grab and go while maintaining social distancing. If you prepare goodie bags, remember to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
Important Do’s and Don’ts to Remember
Do wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered in public places and when social distancing can’t be maintained.
Don’t use costumed masks in place of cloth masks or wear both. Wearing both is dangerous if the costume masks makes it hard to breathe. Save some money and consider a Halloween-themed cloth masks. There are plenty of creative do-it-yourself tips online.
Do wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and sanitize high-touch areas.
Don’t wear costumes with gloves. They’ll protect your hands, but if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth and then go ahead and touch something else, it can increase the risk for spreading the virus.
Do keep hand sanitizer close by if you aren’t able to wash your hands.
Don’t sanitize your candy with sanitizer or wipes. If you can’t let the candy sit for a few days just for good measure, then consider buying your own candy this year.
Do get your flu shot before Halloween. No one wants to get hit with both, so do your part to help protect against influenza.
Do stay home if you are showing signs of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Ultimately, the decision to engage in Halloween activities is a personal one, but remember to follow CDC guidelines to help ensure you and your loved ones are safe during this uncertain time. If you have questions or concerns, contact your health care provider to discuss your personal risk and any additional preventive measures.