In 2020, there have been many more than just ghosts and goblin wearing masks this Halloween season. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing, there are certainly many questions about whether trick-or-treating is safe this year.
While children and parents are likely itching to go around their neighborhoods in costume, collecting candy and seeing friendly familiar faces, it’s important to remember to keep the health and safety of your family and loved ones in mind, even when venturing out on All Hallows Eve.
Each state has its own guidelines and rules for Halloween celebrations, and its definitely worth double-checking, before you venture out to collect treats. The Center for Disease Control also offered its own guidelines to help keep safe. Besides obvious advice like washing hands and wearing a mask, some of the Halloween-specific guidelines include avoiding contact with trick-or-treaters, handing out treats outside, and making a station with bagged treats for children.
It also explains that a costume mask isn’t a substitute for a cloth mask, but also you shouldn’t wear both a costume mask and a cloth face mask, as it’ll make breathing more difficult. The CDC also said children under two and people with trouble breathing shouldn’t wear a mask.
Many states have released their own guidance regarding Halloween activities. While there are many similarities to the CDC recommendations, some states have variations on the guidance, and some have been more lax on the issue, with some offering no guidance to trick-or-treat during COVID.
The Alabama Department of Public Health released a document breaking down various seasonal activities into three categories: high, moderate, and lower risks. Higher risk activities include traditional trick-or-treating or indoor haunted houses. Moderate risks include goodie bags being placed for pickup or candy being delivered by a chute. Low risk activities include pumpkin carving at home, virtual costume contests and more.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services posted a blog on its site with recommendations for safe activities and included a link to the CDC’s guidelines. The recommendations include limiting contact with trick-or-treaters, avoiding haunted houses and more.
The Arizona Department of Health Services released a blog, saying that trick-or-treating can be done safely, by following recommendations like wearing a mask and social-distancing. It also linked it further tips to avoiding spreading COVID on its website.
The Arkansas Department of Health released a document with similar guidelines to the CDC and also broke down the risk-level of different activities, similar to Alabama.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provided similar guidance, telling people to look at local recommendations and try to find alternatives to normal trick-or-treating. Many guidelines are very detailed and similar to previous ones laid out.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health released a document providing guidance on what type of activities people should participate in and avoid, as well as similar recommendations about trick-or-treating.
The Florida Department of Health released a document with many common-sense safety tips for Halloween, but few of the recommendations really address COVID, save for a recommendations of socially distant activities like visiting pumpkin patches or virtual costume contests and handwashing recommendations for giving out goodie bags.
The Hawaii Department of Health released a statement advising people to be cautious when deciding what Halloween activities they would take part in this year and also provided links to alternative lower risk activities and guidance from the CDC.
The Illinois Department of Public Health released similar guidelines for various activities. It also included precautions people can take after celebrating, especially if they took part in high risk activities.
The Indiana Department of Homeland security linked to CDC guidance and provided common sense safety tips on its website for Halloween.
The Iowa Department of Public Health provided similar alternate activities as well as guidance for parents, community members, and event/attraction operators in a document.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment released a lengthy document with recommended and not-recommended activities as well as recommendations like wearing a mask, frequently washing hands and more. It also provided guidance on hosting Halloween parties.
Kentucky’s Public Health Department released a document with similar recommendations to those above. It also advised people to stay home if sick and keep children home if they’re at a higher risk for contracting the virus.
According to Today, Louisiana hasn’t offered official state guidance for Halloween, but the State Fire Marshal released COVID regulations for haunted houses in September.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development released seasonal COVID guidelines, which include Halloween. It also provides a breakdown of different risk levels for activities. It also includes a note recommending against activities like bobbing for apples or donut on a string games, as they present COVID risks.
According to The Baltimore Sun, guidance throughout the state varies from county to county, although many classify trick-or-treating as a high risk activity and provide their own recommendations and guidelines for the activity.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health released guidance recommending people plan for outdoor and socially distanced activities, as well as similar guidelines to the CDC and linking to the CDC.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a festive document with similar guidelines set by the CDC for distributing candy and guidelines for small gatherings.
While not Halloween specific, the Minnesota Department of Health has provided guidance on holiday celebrations for COVID, with links to CDC recommendations.
In September, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs expressed concern about “candy transaction” on Halloween, WLBT reported. The state department of health has provided guidance for preventing spreading the virus on its website. While it does not include specific guidelines for Halloween, it does cover social gatherings and events.
According to Today, there has been no statewide guidance on Halloween. NBC Montana reported on local communities like Flathead City-County holding alternative events.
In an early October COVID update, the Department of Health and Human Services linked to CDC guidance.
Nevada Health Response has released a document with similar guidance on celebrating Halloween, consistent with CDC guidelines.
New Hampshire officials released a document with similar recommendations to the CDC as well as some common sense safety tips.
The New Jersey Department of Health released recommendations for safe activities and recommendations for trick-or-treating safely, including individually packaged goodie bags. It also recommended against activities like indoor haunted houses.
A press release from the Governor’s office offered alternative activities for Halloween, as well as links to CDC guidance and advising against high risk activities.
The New York State Department of Health released a document with similar guidance to the CDC as well as recommendations on safe alternative activities, such as trick-or-treating door-to-door inside your own home.
In September, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released interim guidance on Halloween, breaking down the different risk levels of activities and offering alternatives, similar to the CDC.
According to Today, North Dakota has not issued guidance on Halloween. A Department of Health field epidemiologist said he wouldn’t recommend parties in an interview with Inforum.
The Ohio Department of Health shared a document with recommendations on safe Halloween practices to exercise this year, as well as directing people to the CDC for additional guidance.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health released a document with guidance by county, as well as recommendations for trick-or-treaters and schools with Halloween activities planned.
The Oregon Health Authority issued tips people can follow to have a safe Halloween, including mask recommendations and to avoid trick-or-treating as well as trunk-or-treating.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, many counties have released their own guidance, and a statement from the state recommended people follow CDC guidelines.
The state released a document with similar guidance to the CDC and also provided recommendations for alternate activities people can participate in.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released its own set of tips with recommendations for safely celebrating Halloween as well as linking to the CDC. DHEC Physician and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Kacka said that it wasn’t the year for traditional trick-or-treating, haunted houses and parties in a press release.
According to Today, South Dakota officials have not shared Halloween guidance.
Tennessee has not released statewide recommendations on Halloween, according to Today. Certain areas released their own guidance. In a Facebook post, Mountain City said officials wouldn’t “endorse” Halloween. Fox 17 reported that Nashville officials shared similar guidelines to the CDC.
In a statement to a local CBS outlet, the Texas Department of State Health Services offered guidelines for participating in safe Halloween activities. According to The Texas Tribune, some areas like Hidalgo and El Paso county are not allowing door-to-door trick or treating.
The Utah Department of Health issued guidance similar to the CDC recommendations, as well as explaining different activities’ risk levels and saying what you should do when you get home from whatever your Halloween festivities are.
The Vermont Department of Health have tweeted out suggestions for various activities people can do to have a healthy Halloween, like campfires or outdoor pumpkin carving.
The Virginia Department of Health released a document with similar recommendations to the CDC, recommending against large gatherings and explaining the risks involved with different activities.
The Washington Department of Health shared its own set of safety tips similar to those from the CDC. It included recommendations for preparing to go out, while taking part in activities and preparing for trick-or-treaters.
According to WTRF, Governor Jim Justice announced that he would release Halloween guidelines by October 1, but it does not appear that he’s released them yet, but his wife is hosting a Halloween coloring page contest. A Preston County health officer recommended against gatherings in a statement to WV News.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has a common sense guide on being safe during Halloween. The page also provides a link to the DHS’ COVID page for people to receive tips on staying safe during Halloween. In the post, the DHS advised against traditional trick-or-treating and large gatherings and provided various alternatives.
The Wyoming Department of Health provided similar recommendations to the CDC in a document and explained steps that both families and communities could take.