As temperatures begin to cool and the community prepares for Halloween celebrations, CHOC experts provide the following recommendations for how to celebrate Halloween safely amid COVID-19.
“Celebrating holidays such as Halloween is a treasured part of childhood, and we want all children and families to make special memories together. It’s important to heed safety precautions and celebrate safely,” says Dr. Jasjit Singh, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at CHOC. “While many people feel restless after months of stay at home orders and life looking so much different than it used to, now is the time to be as vigilant as ever in curbing the spread of COVID-19.”
These recommendations are meant to supplement, rather than replace, any local or statewide rules and regulations.
Use technology such as FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to enjoy festivities such as costume contests, pumpkin carvings or festive meals together.
Or, have a virtual, interactive watch party for your favorite Halloween movie using Netflix Party or Disney+’s GroupWatch. These services allow you to synchronize your show or movie with friends and family, and chat while you’re watching.
Celebrating virtually is especially important if you are celebrating with family members over the age of 65, or those who are immunocompromised and have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from COVID-19.
Festive outdoor celebrations
Carving or decorating pumpkins outside with neighbors, from a safe distance, is considered a low-risk activity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Families could also consider organizing a Halloween scavenger hunt where kids can search for festive items as they walk from house to house, admiring decorations from a distance.
If you visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, ensure the location requires frequent hand-washing or hand sanitizer use, masks are required and social distancing is maintained.
Wear a mask
It’s important to remember that a Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a proper face covering, says Dr. Belinda Dao, a CHOC pediatrician. “Masks that do not meet the stated criteria from the CDC are not appropriate face masks,” Dr. Dao says.
Pediatrician Dr. Marnie Granados adds, “protective masks should cover a child’s nose and mouth, be secure under their chin, and fit snugly against the sides of their face.”
Per the CDC, a moderate-risk activity is a one-way trick-or-treating path where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up at the end of driveways or sidewalks for kids to grab and go while maintaining social distancing.
Anyone preparing goodie bags should practice proper hand-washing before and after.
Activities to avoid this Halloween
Traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to do is not recommended by the CDC, nor are trunk-or-treat events where treats are given to children from trunks of cars lined up in parking lots. These celebrations don’t allow for proper social distancing.
Likewise, indoor events such as costume parties and haunted houses are not recommended during COVID-19.
For more health and wellness resources from the pediatric experts at CHOC, sign up for the Kids Health newsletter.
How to prevent and treat respiratory illnesses this season
Unfortunately, many kids get infected with respiratory illnesses in the fall and winter seasons. CHOC experts highly encourage all eligible members of households to receive their annual flu shots. Other preventative measures like good hygiene and staying home when sick can help protect families from illness. The following articles and guides provide more information.
Get answers to your frequently asked questions – and some peace of mind – with this complete guide to COVID-19 vaccines from CHOC pediatric experts.