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.
Gather in small groups
Whether celebrating indoors or outdoors, it’s best to limit your gathering to a small group of vaccinated people, says Dr. Marisa Turner, a CHOC pediatrician. If all members of the family are vaccinated besides young children, you can visit with another household without masks. However, remember to take precautions like washing your hands and making sure you’re in a well-ventilated space.
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.”
Try to incorporate masks with your kids’ costumes. The mask could match the costume’s color or print, or kids can even get creative by making a mask to incorporate as part of their costume. Just be wary of painting masks for some paints may contain toxins.
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.
If trick-or-treating, have your kids travel in small groups. When combining different households, keep a bit of distance between groups for extra safety. Make sure that your children know to avoid large clusters of children waiting to receive their goodies at doorsteps.
Anyone preparing goodie bags should practice proper hand-washing before and after.
Be careful at large events
With community events able to resume this year, outdoor events will always be safer than indoors. Rather than visiting an indoor, poorly ventilated haunted house, opt for an outside corn maze or haunted forest. Pumpkin patches can also be a fun way to celebrate; just sanitize your hands before and after picking your pumpkin.
If there is a large crowd at an outdoor event, keep a safe distance from others and wear a mask.
If your family plans to visit an indoor trick-or-treating or community event, wear a mask. Keep a safe distance from others and make sure to sanitize and wash your hands.
Offer prepackaged goodies
If you are planning on handing out goodies at home, consider lining up prepackaged goodies on a table outside for children to easily grab and go to avoid long lines and clusters. Make sure to wash your hands before assembling the goodies. You could also opt for non-edible treats in consideration of kids with food allergies.
Other safety measures
In addition to COVID-19 safety measures, make sure to practice basic Halloween safety measures like ensuring that your children’s costumes fit properly to avoid tripping; ensuring that their costumes or treat bags are bright and reflective in some way; and double-checking that your child’s treats are properly sealed before enjoying.
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