As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, Halloween and its festivities, such as parties and trick-or-treating, have either begun or lie just around the corner.
“While decisions for participation in Halloween activities are made by communities and individuals, precautions should be followed to curb the spread of COVID-19,” said Victoria Smith, director of health education and preparedness for the Williams County Combined Health District, in an email to The Bryan Times.
Trick-or-treating is listed in the email as a “high-risk” activity, and Smith advised people to stay six feet away from one another and always wear a protective mask.
While the holiday is known for festive or frightening masks, costume masks are not a substitute for the protective masks that have pervaded the country this year. The email recommends people wear Halloween-themed cloth masks.
“Avoid having children select their own treats from a bowl/common container,” the email states. “Carry hand sanitizer and use it often, especially after contacting frequently touched surfaces and before eating candy.”
People handing out candy were advised in the email to place treats or individual goodie bags on the porch, steps or a table in the driveway or hang treats from a wall or fence.
In-person Halloween parties should be limited to 10 or fewer people and held outside where social distancing can be practiced.
“Bring your own food and drinks and avoid potluck-style meals,” the email states. “Avoid activities, such as bobbing for apples, that foster the spread of infection.”
Lower-to-moderate risk activities listed in the email include holding events online or doing drive-by costume or car-decorating contests and trick-or-treat events where social distancing is possible.
A scavenger hunt of Halloween-themed things to look for while walking outdoors is another possibility, as is a Halloween movie night indoors with the people you live with or outdoors with family and friends spaced at least six feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised.
“What we’ve seen for some time and what we’re seeing across the state now is when people start congregating in groups indoors what ends up happening is we see the virus spread,” said Williams County Health Commissioner Jim Watkins. “When it comes to friends and family who don’t live in the same household, I think people feel comfortable with those folks and maybe don’t take precautions. And when that happens, the virus finds that opportunity to go from person to person.”