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January 21, 2022 03:00pm
By Ashley Gallagher, Assistant Editor
Many families look forward to Halloween festivities, and there are a variety of creative and safe ways to celebrate while reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Halloween will likely look different this year as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic persists throughout the United States. Many families look forward to Halloween festivities, and there are a variety of creative and safe ways to celebrate while reducing the spread of COVID-19.
This is a great time for health care professionals to educate the public and remind everyone about the importance of masks, physical distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), and frequent hand washing. Individuals should not let their guard down during Halloween, as it is critical to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is also an important time to remind the community that everyone’s actions have a direct impact on the health of others.
Both the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have issued guidance on Halloween activities, and health and safety measures.1,2 “The decisions we make on this 1 day can have a ripple effect on our family members.We can find safe ways to celebrate and create magical memories,” said Shelly Vaziri Flais, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and AAP spokesperson in a prepares statement.2
Evidence demonstrates that even small family gatherings can lead to COVID-19 spread when appropriate safety measures are not followed.3
Hosting a virtual costume party is a great way to stay connected with family and friends.2 Pumpkin carving, decorating, and a Halloween movie night with members of the same household can be fun for all ages. Creating a Halloween themed scavenger hunt by hiding treats around the house is also sure to be a big hit.
Outdoor activities with family and friends that are not in the same household should involve physical distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing.1,2 Drive through events are being advertised on social media as a safe way to experience Halloween without getting out of the car, and may even have curbside treats and pumpkins. Attending an outdoor costume parade can be a fun way to celebrate Halloween, as long as all health and safety measures are followed. If visiting a pumpkin patch, it’s important to wash hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching surfaces and pumpkins.1 Crowds should be avoided, and individuals should not attend indoor events such as haunted houses, as these can increase the spread of COVID-19.2
Individuals should avoid traditional trick-or-treating, and residents should sit outdoors wearing face coverings if they would like to hand out individually packaged treats. Families should bring hand sanitizer and use frequently while trick-or-treating, and wash their hands after returning home. All individuals aged 2 years and older should wear adequate face coverings, as costume masks are not sufficient against COVID-19 transmission, if trick-or-treating.1
It also is important to offer non-candy options for children with food allergies, and in doing so, households can participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project.2 All families should wipe down treat bags and keep candy in quarantine for a few days as an extra precaution.1