Public health officials from the county to the federal level recommend against traditional trick-or-treating this October. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled information on potential alternatives grouped by their virus transmission risk level.
Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said navigating Halloween safely this year is “going to be tricky.” Any risky activities that involve gatherings and parties would be “red flags” for spread of the novel coronavirus. She recommends against house-to-house trick-or-treating this year because it risks exposing a wide swath of people. “Parents often go with their kids to do trick-or-treating with a lot of people on the streets, and a lot of people come in contact with one another at a less than 6-foot distance,” she said. “And of course, COVID can be transmitted on objects like candy and other things being distributed.”
• Carve or decorate pumpkins with members of your household or outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
• Decorating your home
• Organize a Halloween scavenger hunt. Give children a list of Halloween-themed things to find while they walk outdoors, looking at Halloween decorations from a safe distance.
• Hold a virtual Halloween costume contest.
• Have a Halloween movie night with people you live with.
• Place individually wrapped goodie bags outside your home for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance. (If you prepare bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags).
• Have a small, outdoor, open-air costume parade or party where people are distanced more than six feet apart. (A costume mask should only be used if it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe).
• Visit pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced and people are able to maintain social distancing.
• Have an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family and friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart.
Higher risk activities - strongly discouraged
Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:
• Door to door trick or treating is strongly discouraged because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors, ensure that everyone answering or coming to the door is appropriately masked to prevent disease spread and it involves touching high contact surfaces such as doorbells and candy bowls.
• Business to business trick or treating is strongly discouraged because it will attract more individuals to retail establishments that are required to limit store capacity, will result in more congestion outside the storefront and will decrease the store’s ability to ensure proper face coverings and social distancing.
• “Trunk or treating” where children go from car to car instead of door to door to receive treats is also strongly discouraged since it is difficult to avoid crowding and sharing food.
Higher Risk Activities - Not Permitted
• Halloween gatherings, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted, except outdoor gatherings of no more than 12 people, and no more than 3 households, and with compliance with social distancing, face coverings, and hygiene requirements.
• Carnivals, festivals, live audience entertainment and indoor haunted house attractions are not allowed.
Personal protective measures:
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween, it is important to keep the following in mind:
• Correctly wear a cloth face covering to prevent disease spread when outside your home and around others that are not part of your household. Plastic, rubber, vinyl and other Halloween costume masks are not acceptable substitutes for cloth face coverings to prevent COVID-19 spread.
• Outdoors is safer – Actively stay away from indoor spaces that do not allow for easy distancing of at least six feet between you and others.
• Avoid close contact – Stay at least six feet away (3 or more adult steps) or more from all other people who are not part of your own household, especially while talking, eating, drinking, singing, chanting, shouting, or dancing.
• Wear a facial covering while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household. Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill.
• Avoid any self-serve food or drink options. If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
• Wash or sanitize your hands often.
• Clean high touch items regularly.
• If you are sick, or you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19 please stay home and away from others.
• Get tested for COVID-19 if you are sick, you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID -19 or have regular contact with others outside your household due to work, shopping or social activities.