For children of all ages, Halloween means dressing up in a costume and heading out into the neighborhood with friends and family to trick-or-treat and collect candy in the crisp autumn air.
However, with the virus that causes COVID-19 still spreading throughout much of the country, this year’s Halloween celebrations might look and feel different. Our clinicians are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and advising families to find new and innovative ways to celebrate the holiday safely.
“These are challenging times, and with that comes a responsibility to take extra precautions to protect children’s health and the health of our communities,” said Daisy Dodd, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. “That means we need to be more creative in the way we celebrate Halloween this year to prevent putting anyone’s health at risk.”
Parents should consider lower-risk and safer alternatives to traditional trick-or-treat activities this year:
If you’re still planning on having your children trick-or-treat, Dr. Dodd stresses the importance of always wearing protective masks and gloves. According to the CDC, a costume mask for Halloween is not a safe substitute for a cloth mask. To better protect your health, consider using a Halloween-themed protective cloth mask instead. And don’t wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.
Dr. Dodd also encourages parents to attend Halloween activities in a known area or familiar location, such as a church or a friend’s house, to limit their children’s exposure to the coronavirus. She advises against going door to door to trick-or-treat in the neighborhood. Keep your group small and maintain appropriate physical distance from those outside your home. Once home, Dr. Dodd urges everyone to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, then lay out all collected, wrapped candy on a clean counter or kitchen table to let it “air out” for a few hours before eating it.
Also, health department guidelines may vary by location, so it’s important to check with your local public health department for additional guidance on safely celebrating Halloween this year.
“It’s best to not participate in traditional trick-or-treat activities this year, as it can be difficult to maintain proper physical distancing at front doors and on crowded sidewalks,” Dr. Dodd said. “The bottom line is the coronavirus is still out there, and we cannot let our guard down. By taking simple precautions, we can ensure that our children will still enjoy the holiday in a way that is safer for everyone involved.”