Halloween is spooky enough without getting sick from COVID-19.

It’s true—Halloween might look a little (or a lot) different this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts traditional trick-or-treating in the “high-risk” category for potential exposure, there’s still plenty of ways to celebrate safely. Here’s our ideas for how to stay safe and spooky this Halloween. 

Trick or Treating

Even the risk of COVID-19 exposure from trick-or-treating can be minimized this year—with the right modifications, of course. 

According to Dr. Kyle Freese, Chief Epidemiologist at STChealth, there are two key things to remember when it comes to any kind of Halloween celebration in 2020. 

“Maximize distance and minimize time spent with others,” he says. 

This includes following the golden coronavirus advice at all times: wear a mask when you are unable to socially distance or are out and about (remember, costume masks are no replacement for cloth or medical masks); wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer regularly; and stay six feet apart from others whenever possible. And, as always, if you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the illness, you should isolate yourself to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.

While Halloween presents unique challenges for following this advice, it is absolutely possible, given a bit of creativity. 

For example, Dr. Freese has already planned out a creative, fun and safe way to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters in his neighborhood while maximizing distance and minimizing time spent with others.

“This year we’re going to sit in our driveway and lay out individual pieces of candy along the edge of the driveway so kids can just take it and they’re not rummaging through the bowl,” he explains. “We’ll sit towards the back and then we’ll have rows of individual pieces of candy outside our driveway and I’ll replenish as needed. It might look weird, but it’s better than the alternative—potentially spreading COVID-19.” 

Dr. Freese also advises going trick-or-treating in small groups—such as just with your permanent household—and trick-or-treating in neighborhoods versus apartment complexes, since it’s less likely for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) to spread outdoors than it is indoors. 

“Another thing I recently noticed in our neighborhood is that there will be influxes of kids walking around,” he adds. “So, I would avoid larger crowds. You know, if there’s a big backup at a house, maybe skip that house and go to the next one.” 

High-Risk Halloween Activities to Avoid

According to the CDC, there are several high-risk Halloween activities that should be avoided, including:

  • Traditional trick-or-treating—a.k.a., trick-or-treating that does not take COVID-19 precautions into consideration
  • Participating in “trunk-or-treat” festivities, an activity where treats are handed out from the trunks of cars lined up in a large parking lot
  • Going to crowded costume parties, especially if they’re held indoors
  • Going to haunted houses; especially if they are indoors or crowded
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and make you more likely to participate in dangerous behavior
  • Going to fall festivals, especially if they are crowded and not in your community, if you happen to live in an area with a community spread of COVID-19

A complete list of Halloween activities ranked from low-risk to high-risk can be found on the CDC’s website. 

Other Ways to Celebrate

If trick-or-treating isn’t your jam or sounds too difficult to do safely this year, fear not—there are tons of other ways to have a fun Halloween while minimizing the possibility of catching or spreading COVID-19. 

Here are some alternative Halloween activities: 

  • Have a Halloween themed movie night at home with your family or household
  • Decorate and carve pumpkins 
  • Make homemade Halloween treats
  • Create an at home Halloween scavenger hunt where you hunt for candy throughout your home and backyard
  • Throw a virtual Halloween party and costume contest
We hope you have a safe and spooky Halloween!