Pandemic Halloween: How to Safely Celebrate Spooky Season

We've all been looking forward to Halloween as an opportunity to enjoy some fun, in-person interaction with friends. However, as with every holiday we’ve had during COVID-19, we need do a little extra planning to celebrate Halloween safely. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued guidance for Americans to plan safe Halloween celebrations during COVID-19. 

Here's what you need to know.

Trick-or-treating is a high risk activity

The CDC categorizes trick-or-treating as high-risk, which may be surprising. The kids are outside the whole time; how bad can it be? 

Think about what Halloween usually looks like: Individuals from many different households gathering around a bowl of candy in large, tight groups where respiratory droplets can linger. Trick-or-treaters touch many shared surfaces as they go around the neighborhood. 

While kids are less likely to contract COVID-19, they do spread it to the adults in their lives. And if communities see a spike in cases after Halloween, more schools may return to all-virtual education—which would be tough for everyone.

Households that give out candy may also have a member of the household with COVID-19 that is asymptomatic. If their hand hygiene isn’t good, it’s possible that the virus can spread very quickly.

Another factor to consider? The start of flu season and the need to slow the spread of influenza in addition to COVID-19.

Learn how to get your flu vaccine.

Additionally, cases of COVID-19 have continued to rise in Massachusetts over the past few weeks, and many communities on the South Shore are now back in the state's higher-risk "red zone." 

With numbers creeping up, it's not a good idea to gather in large groups of trick-or-treaters or to go door-to-door interacting with a large number of people.

Trick-or-treating isn’t worth the risk in 2020.

Enjoy physically distant Halloween activities 

Halloween is all about creativity, so get innovative when planning your celebrations this year.

The CDC offers a variety of low-risk activities that allow adults and kids to enjoy the spooky season safely.

I like the idea of a virtual costume contest.

Kids are getting used to connecting with family members via Zoom—why not embrace this technology to host a costume contest?

This is especially fun for families who may live far apart, and it’s easier to safely involve family members who may be at high-risk of severe complications from COVID-19 or flu.

2020 is also a time to go all-out on decorating your home for Halloween. Whether you decorate inside for your family to enjoy, our outside for your community to see, take the opportunity to have fun with it.

If you neighbors go all-in on decorating, try a scavenger hunt. Have the kids put on their costumes and take a walk, looking for things like jack-o-lanterns, bats, or other common decorations.

Just be sure to stay six feet or more apart from people outside your household who may be doing the same thing.

Halloween masks are not replacements for cloth face masks

The masks that come with Halloween costumes are not going to stop respiratory droplets. Decorative masks are not made of the same materials as cloth face masks. 

Do not put a cloth face mask under a decorative Halloween mask. 

Wearing two different masks can increase the risk of suffocation, especially for young children.

Encourage your child to go without the decorative mask in favor of the face mask, or consider a costume that creatively incorporates a face mask. (It’s a great year to be a doctor or nurse for Halloween!)

In 2020, we've become so creative to celebrate holidays safely, and we must do the same for Halloween. 

Follow the guidance of public health experts, and brainstorm different ways to engage with your family and community this Halloween. 

Who knows? The activities you develop may become beloved traditions.

Learn more about how we're keeping you safe during COVID-19.