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How to Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween Despite COVID-19

by UPMC

Halloween masks might look a little different this year but careful measures to stay safe from COVID-19 can ensure a happy, healthy holiday.

Celebrations Look a Little Different

While many communities offer guidelines for trick-or-treating and festivities, it’s important for families to navigate Halloween based on their own risk factors and concerns. These considerations are meant to supplement, not replace, any state or local safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply. When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees.

Halloween parties and any event with large groups gathering who are unable to socially distance probably shouldn’t happen as getting people together in groups has been a big source of virus spread and clusters of infections. As for all activities during the pandemic, each family must think about their own risk tolerance for their situation. If a family has vulnerable household members or close contacts, they may be less willing to take even very small risks.

Trick-or-Treat

Traditional Halloween activities are fun, but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or influenza. Some tips to help make trick-or-treating safer include:

  • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters and wear a mask. Trick-or-treaters and parents should practice social distancing and incorporate masks into their costumes. Typical plastic Halloween masks with the eyeholes and mouth holes wouldn’t offer any protection either way, for children or adults. Incorporate an appropriate cloth face mask as part of the costume.
  • Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take and give out treats outdoors, if possible. If your household decides to hand out candy this year, it’s recommended to pre-pack individual treat bags for young children to “grab-n-go.” Additionally, some more creative candy distribution ideas like long-handled grabbing tools could be used to offer treats while staying socially distant.
  • Wash hands before handling treats. The virus that causes COVID-19 is primarily spread person-to-person and there is little evidence of significant transmission from inanimate objects, so it isn’t necessary to wipe down every individual package of candy. If parents want to be more cautious, he said they may consider “quarantining” the candy until the next day so that if any virus is on the wrapper, it will no longer be able to cause infection.

Enjoy the Alternatives

This year has changed the way we celebrate holidays, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t have a little fun. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the risk levels of various Halloween activities on its website. For example, if you’re worried your children will miss out on trick-or-treating, a safe alternative is to hide Halloween treats in and around your house and hold a Halloween treat hunt with household members. Other safer, lower risk alternatives to trick-or-treating could include pumpkin carving, walking, or driving around the neighborhood to check out the decorations, virtual costume contests, or watching Halloween movies at home.

Enjoy this year’s celebration for what it is. With a little preparation, planning, and the proper precautions you can still make it one to remember. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your primary care provider for tips and guidance based on your family’s risk and health status.

Learn more about Primary Care services offered at UPMC in the Susquehanna region.