With the COVID-19 pandemic still greatly affecting many parts of the country, parents might be wondering whether it’s safe to take their children out trick-or-treating this year. Doctors, pediatricians, researchers, and virologists as well CDC health officials have given parents some general guidelines to judge whether typical Halloween celebrations are in order this year.
The most important advice parents should take a look at is information directly from the health experts at the CDC. They have stated that several traditional Halloween activities (like trick-or-treating) can be a high-risk mode of viral spread, and they’ve urged parents to consider safer alternatives to traditional celebrations. And of course, if you or someone you interact with has tested positive for COVID-19, you should refrain from public activities and should not hand out candy on Halloween night!
The CDC has given several suggestions for safer alternatives for families to enjoy their Halloween holiday this year, including:
Other activities, such as small costume parades, outdoor costume parties where masks are worn, going to an outdoor haunted maze, visiting pumpkin patches, and hosting a neighborhood movie night are all considered moderate-risk activities. The highest risk activities include trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treat events, crowded indoor costume parties, indoor haunted houses, hayrides, and fall festivals. Parents should consider avoiding these activities, especially with babies and toddlers who are unable to wear masks in public.
Of course, the amount of risk varies depending on where you live. In areas where community spread is still rampant, and most businesses and workplaces are still closed, trick-or-treating is definitely not recommended. However, in areas where COVID-19 numbers have been steadily decreasing and community spread has lessened, there is much less of a risk - but people should still take caution when in public spaces.
Here are the top three things to keep in mind when considering trick-or-treating this year:
- Joining a large group of trick-or-treaters (like with a group of friends or neighbors) can present the biggest risk, because prolonged, close exposure to people outside your household brings the highest risk of virus transmission - especially if people aren’t wearing masks or aren’t wearing them properly.
- Face-to-face exposure, such as when a child goes up to a door and asks for candy, also presents a risk even though the contact is brief. As researchers find out more about airborne virus exposure, it is important for families to practice the utmost caution when it comes to heading door to door this Halloween. Not to mention, other trick-or-treaters you’ll probably pass by on the street or in people’s driveways presents even further risk.
- Although it might be the least concerning risk, virus transmission via surfaces is still something to be cautious about. If you think about traditional trick-or-treating, what will your child usually touch? Most kids will come in contact with candy, doors, other people, bowls, bags, and toys. Using hand sanitizer can help prevent children from being exposed to germs, but young children often touch their mouths, noses, and eyes before there’s time to use sanitizer or wash hands.
If you definitely plan on taking your children trick-or-treating, there are some guidelines you can follow to help keep your children safe from germs. First, discuss good hygiene and hand-washing protocol. Whether you’re bringing along hand sanitizers, or you collect your child’s candy for them, make sure you discuss your expectations with your kids ahead of time. Children older than age 2 should wear a mask in public, and make sure that it fits properly around their mouth and nose. If you’re worried your child will be uncomfortable in a mask, practice wearing a mask at home for a few minutes every day in the weeks leading up to Halloween. You can even have your child pick out a special Halloween-themed mask to wear! Encourage your children to wait until you get home at the end of the night before opening and eating any candy.
Parents should keep gatherings small, limited to only those within their social bubble, family members in the household, or a few other families that have been following social distancing guidelines. Don’t let children share plates, cups, toys, or costume pieces with one another. Have hand sanitizer readily available for children and other party guests. If possible, keep gatherings outdoors in open spaces. Parents, don’t fret: Halloween is most certainly not cancelled this year. However, we do need to be cautious and considerate of our friends and neighbors when planning celebrations. You can have plenty of spooky fun at home, within the safety of interacting with only your family members. Let’s take this time to get creative, stay safe, and keep our families healthy and strong!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.