How You Can Celebrate Halloween During COVID-19

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halloween and coronavirus

So many fun and pleasurable events have been postponed or canceled this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Is it still possible to celebrate Halloween?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) say you and your family can celebrate Halloween – but the holiday may look a little bit different than it did last year. Even so, there are ways to have fun on Halloween – and keep you and your family healthy.

The AAP suggests that in general, children and adults should avoid large gatherings, maintain a distance of six feet from others, wear cloth face coverings – even if your costume has a mask – and wash hands frequently during Halloween activities. Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities, but it is still important to follow safety precautions, the AAP says.

“I think there are some ways that we can celebrate Halloween,” says pediatric infectious disease specialist Amy Edwards, MD. “Rather than focus on what is missing this year, focus instead on what you have and find new and creative ways for your family to still have fun.”

Trick-Or-Treat During COVID-19

Traditional trick-or-treating, where candy is passed out to children as they go door-to-door, is a higher-risk activity in the context of COVID-19, the CDC says. So is “trunk-or-treat,” where goodies are handed out from the trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.

If you do decide to trick-or-treat, the AAP advises families to avoid groups or clustering at doorsteps or any other place.

If kids are wearing masks and they’re outside and physically distancing, especially if they are young, the data indicate the risk of spreading COVID-19 is fairly low, Dr. Edwards says.

For those handing out candy, figure out a method to distribute treats in a socially distanced way, Dr. Edwards says. For example, you could place candy on a table set up on your driveway or front porch with a sign saying “Take One” while you sit in a chair nearby wearing a mask to enjoy the costumes and help with distancing.

Some parents are dispensing with trick-or-treat altogether and simply buying Halloween candy for their children to enjoy, she says.

Higher-Risk Halloween Activities

The CDC considers trick-or-treating as a higher-risk activity. Other higher-risk activities, according to the CDC, include:

  • Crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

Take a Positive Approach

Parents should adopt a positive and creative approach this year to celebrate the holiday with their children, Dr. Edwards says.

“These aren’t normal times,” she says. “I think people have to get past the idea that it has to be the same as it was last year. That’s not going to happen. Rather than submit to this dichotomy where I have to be normal or nothing, it’s time to find our creativity. I feel there are solutions out there. Talk with other people in your neighborhood to see what you can do and how to stay safe. I think it’s completely doable.”

Dr. Edwards also advises parents to monitor their community’s situation with COVID-19 infections before making plans.

“This is all completely moot if we have an explosion of cases,” she says. “If there is a massive outbreak and numbers are out of control, it’s absolutely essential we not have Halloween community activities.”

But even then, you can still have fun at home, she says. Take your kids to pick out pumpkins and carve them together. Enjoy spooky music, stories or movies. Decorate your house or living space. Hold a Halloween scavenger hunt. Enjoy candy and the special foods of the season like pumpkin spice-flavored treats or apple cider.

“Maybe you’ll come up with some new traditions that you will keep next year,” Dr. Edwards says.

Related Links

UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s dedicated team of more than 1,300 pediatric specialists uses the most advanced treatments and latest innovations to deliver the complete range of pediatric specialty services for 750,000 patient encounters each year. Learn more about UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital or find a pediatrician close to home.

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