CDC announces high and low risk Halloween activities amid COVID-19; trick-or-treating not recommended

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a memo Monday detailing risk factors regarding the spread of COVID-19 as Halloween approaches amid the ongoing pandemic.

While costumed children usually go door to door for candy and goodies, the high-touch nature of the activity and the high volume of social interactions make trick-or-treating a high-risk affair.

Even still, many local communities are releasing their own guidelines related to the holiday tradition.

CDC’s guidelines are not meant to replace local guidelines, but rather serve as extra considerations.

Here are some of the most important considerations ahead of Halloween:

  • Indoor gatherings increase risk of the spread of COVID-19. Events such as costume parties and indoor haunted houses generally encourage attendees to yell, scream or raise their voices, increasing the spread of respiratory droplets in the air. The coronavirus is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets of infected people. These types of events are deemed high-risk activities.
  • Hayrides and tractor rides with people outside of one’s own household constitute high-risk activities.
  • Door-to-door trick-or-treating in which neighbors hand out goodies or place a trunk full of goodies for children to pick from are high-risk options. Socially distant trick-or-treating in which children pick from individually wrapped goodie bags that are lined up for families to grab and go is a moderate-risk activity. People who plan to offer individually wrapped goodies for children should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing the bags.
  • Costume masks should not be used to replace masks and face coverings. They should also not be doubled up, so as to prevent proper breathing. Instead, consider Halloween-themed cloth masks.
  • An outdoor costume party or parade in which attendees wear protective masks and stay six or more feet apart is a moderate-risk activity.
  • Visiting an outdoor pumpkin patch where masks are worn, hand sanitizer is used and people are at least six feet apart is a moderate-risk acvitity.
  • Get the neighborhood involved by hosting an outdoor movie night while maintaining distance on separate blankets. Decorating pumpkins in separate areas outside and participating in an outdoor scavenger hunt are also options. These are all moderate-risk activities.
  • A virtual costume contest is a great way to connect with friends and family no matter where they are.
  • Hosting events with members of the same household is generally safe. Consider carving pumpkins, decorating parts of the home, having a Halloween movie night or participating in a scavenger hunt inside or outside the home with immediate family members.
  • Those who participate in high-risk activities are encouraged to take extra precautions after the holiday, such as quarantining at home, avoiding being around other people and getting tested for COVID-19.

For those who insist on hosting or attending events, the CDC recommends outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible.

When considering holiday-related activities, risk increases as event duration and attendance numbers increase.

Masks and face coverings as well as intentional hand-washing and sanitation are recommended. The agency also recommends maintaining six feet of distance between event-goers and avoiding high-touch areas such as restrooms and eating areas when bigger groups are present.

Read more detailed guidelines from the CDC here, and see more safe options for Halloween activities here.