Kids and parents alike have likely had difficult conversations this year, balancing safety with beloved traditions of gathering together. As we navigate living in a global pandemic, families are facing unprecedented times. Activities and events that were once part of everyday life now seem a bit foreign.
As we approach the holiday season, kicking it all off with Halloween, state and local health departments encourage families and communities to stay safe. The Oklahoma State Department of Health released its guidance for families planning for Halloween and other fall festivities as some traditional celebrations do not allow for proper social distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are a multitude of ways people can safely enjoy the holiday season this year, and connect with loved ones without putting anyone in unnecessary risk,” said Dr. Lance Frye, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health. “Celebrate, but celebrate wisely, and continue following the three W’s: wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.”
Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses low risk for spread and is encouraged. If you have COVID-19 – or think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 – you should not participate in in-person Halloween or fall festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
Guidance for those who plan to celebrate Halloween includes: avoiding crowded parties and indoor haunted houses, group activities should be limited to fewer than 10 people but it is recommended to only include members of your household, trick-or-treating should be done in outdoor environments only and a costume mask is not an acceptable substitute for a cloth mask. Health officials also cautioned against wearing a costume mask over a cloth or surgical mask as breathing can be more difficult.
However, these guidelines vary based on your community’s specific alert level.
For those who wish to hand out Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters, consider preparing individual goodie bags for touch-free, grab-and-go trick-or-treating.
In-person gatherings with people outside your household 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, as outlined in CDC guidance on Considerations for Events and Gatherings.
Safer Halloween activities for people to consider include:
- Pumpkin carving or decorating outside with members of your household.
- Decorating your house, apartment or living space.
- Organizing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
- Hosting a virtual Halloween costume contest.
- Halloween movie night with members of your household.