The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended skipping some traditional holiday elements this year, including Halloween trick-or-treating, to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.
“Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household pose low risk for spread," the agency stated on its website. "In-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk. Event organizers and attendees should consider the risk of virus spread based on event size and use of mitigation strategies …”
With residents across the Pikes Peak region planning for Halloween next month, the CDC offered additional guidelines for a safe celebration.
People who may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the coronavirus should not participate in in-person Halloween activities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters, the agency advised.
Additionally, those at higher risk for severe illness or who live or work with someone at high risk should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in the same household or consider activities that pose a lower risk when attending in-person events outside the household.
The agency also suggested avoiding activities such as trunk-or-treat events, where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
Indoor costume parties or indoor haunted houses, where people may be crowded or screaming, should also be avoided as should hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in the same household, the agency advised. Using alcohol or drugs, which can impair judgment and increase risky behaviors, and traveling to rural fall festivals outside the home community also should be avoided, the CDC cautioned.
“There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween,” the CDC noted.
Lower-risk activities such as pumpkin carving and decorating, decorating the home, hosting Halloween scavenger hunts or virtual costume contests, and having a Halloween movie night with other household members are some safer alternatives.
The El Paso County Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Halloween safety guidance.
The CDC also cautioned against using costume masks as substitutes for cloth masks, unless the costume mask is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose, and does not leave gaps around the face.
People should not wear costume masks over cloth masks because it can become dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.
“Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask,” the CDC suggested.
For more information on holiday COVID-19 guidelines, visit the CDC’s website.