Halloween is less than two weeks away, and just like every other annual milestone in 2020, it’s going to be a little different this year. In guidelines released earlier this week, the Houston Health Department is encouraging people to forgo parties, pub crawls and traditional trick-or-treating for safer, more socially-distant activities.
“The City of Houston is not canceling Halloween this year, but we are discouraging people from gathering in large groups. It is important that we keep the COVID-19 numbers moving in the right direction. This requires us to be smarter about how we trick-or-treat,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Families and children can still have a ghoulish good time without jeopardizing their health and safety during the pandemic.”
The Center for Disease Control recommends people avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters, and says that Halloween activities are safer if they take place outside. One alternative proposed by both the CDC and City of Houston is to set up “one-way” trick or treating, in which residents place individually-wrapped goodie bags on a table or blanket set up at the end of a driveway or yard. Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston, says this method is safer than door-to-door trick-or-treating, but still carries some moderate risk. People should also wash their hands frequently, especially before handling or eating treats.
Other socially-distant activities recommended by the City of Houston include visiting a haunted forest attraction, where distancing is easier and outdoor transmission is less risky; scavenger hunts or spooky movie nights with household members; baking Halloween-themed treats with household members; and virtual costume parties through teleconferencing apps like Zoom.
The city also offered masking and costume guidelines for staying safe during the holiday, saying that a costume mask is not a substitute for a tight-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth. Additionally, wearing a costume mask over a protective fabric mask may be dangerous if it obscures your vision or restrict breathing.
And obviously, those with coronavirus-like symptoms; fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, new loss of taste or smell, and diarrhea, and people exposed to someone who tested positive, should not answer the door for trick-or-treaters.
Read the full guidelines here.
- We Asked Health Experts About the Safest Methods for Trick-or-Treating in 2020 [Eater]
- Trick or Treating and Other Halloween Activities [CDC]
- Houston Health Department Encourages Alternatives To Traditional Trick-Or-Treating And Halloween Gatherings During COVID-19 Pandemic [Houston Heath Department]