Halloween 2020 is finally here, but given the state of the world, this year’s celebrations will look a little different than usual. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged a number of states– some more than others– which means that depending on where you live, trick or treating could end very early, or not take place at all.
Experts have, for months now, predicted a surge in coronavirus cases with autumn weather. This, the Washington Post states, is based on the patterns of other respiratory viruses. Thus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled Trick or Treating as a “high-risk” activity this year due to coronavirus. Its website reads, “Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses.”
Typically, Halloween falls on a weekday, and children begin scurrying from house to house looking for candy after returning home from school. With the holiday falling on a Saturday, though, things will pan out differently.
The CDC is stressing the importance of staying home if you have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you may have it. “If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.”
The CDC goes on to suggest lower risk activities to get you in the spirit, such as carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, decorating your house, doing a Halloween scavenger hunt, or having a virtual Halloween contest.
In large cities such as New York City, Trick or Treating is allowed. According to the New York Times, Mayor Bill de Blasio said just last week that “children will still be able to take part in frantic quests for candy bars and chocolates.” He did emphasize to keep the activities outdoors, however, which would mean avoiding the typical apartment building hunt for candy.
In Jersey, meanwhile, officials are indeed banning trick-or-treating statewide, the New York Times reports.
Other areas, such as Lancaster, California, are specifying Trick or Treating times and enforcing strict guidelines. The official times for Trick or Treating in the Town of Lancaster, as enforced by the Lancaster Police Department, range from 6-8 p.m.
Indiana is also implementing specific, planned Trick or Treating times on October 31, which you can learn more about here, and state officials in California are recommending that Californians do not Trick or Treat this year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The LA Times writes, “Health officials voiced concerns that it’s not possible to practice social distancing while trick-or-treating and that Día de los Muertos and Halloween celebrations would lead to interaction with people from outside one’s household. State officials are strongly discouraging trick-or-treating and suggested that some Halloween activities, such as costume contests and pumpkin carving, move online. They recommended that families go on a walk while dressed up but forgo stopping door-to-door for candy.”
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly states that California suggesting people not Trick or Treat in no way means any “enforcement” will be implemented. Ghaly tells the outlet, “We don’t want to turn certainly what is a celebration and a time of joy into something that is difficult or contentious, but we also recognize the need to provide a clear understanding of the risks and why we recommend strongly that we do Halloween differently than we have in the past.”
The bottom line is this: every state, city, and county is implementing different guidelines and restrictions this year. However, and as Good Housekeeping points out, most locations will likely defer to national recommendations implemented by the CDC when it comes to specific bans on Trick or Treating.
The following cities are specifying certain regulations when it comes to Trick or Treating, according to Good Housekeeping:
- Auburn, Alabama (there will be drive-thru trick or treating offered instead)
- Los Angeles, California (large gatherings are not permitted this year)
- San Diego, California (In-person events with more than three households are not allowed)
- Orlando, Florida (Halloween Horror Nights has been closed this year)
- Louisville, Kentucky (the Halloween Parade has been canceled)
Dr. Edith Branch-Sanchez, an assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the pediatric telemedicine program with Columbia University Medical Center suggests five ways to keep children safe while Trick or Treating to Good Morning America. They include checking positive testing rates in your community, making a neighborhood action plan, getting the flu shot before Halloween, wearing a mask, and getting creative to hand out candy.
This post will be updated with more information as it becomes available.