Oct 15, 2020, 10:50:53 AM CDT Oct 11, 2021, 12:34:45 PM CDT

Halloween during COVID-19: Trick-or-treat fun and safety

Learn how to enjoy the holiday safely during COVID-19

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In 2020, many Halloween activities were canceled due to COVID‑19. This year – thanks to the availability of the COVID‑19 vaccine for anyone over 12 – many communities are hosting their annual pumpkin walks, fall festivals, trunk-or-treat parties and trick-or-treating events.

This is exciting for families, but after a recent rise in COVID‑19 cases, parents may wonder how they can keep their children safe and healthy while celebrating.

"Children have been incredibly patient and resilient in adapting to our ‘new normal,' and thankfully, we have come a long way in keeping our families and communities safe," says Carla Garcia Carreno, M.D., an Infectious Disease Specialist at Children's Health℠. "While Halloween activities may still look a little different this year, we can celebrate while keeping safety a priority."

See tips for reducing risk of COVID‑19 while enjoying the spooky season with your kids.

Is it safe to go trick-or-treating during COVID‑19?

This year, families can go trick-or-treating if going outside in small groups. COVID‑19 spreads from person to person, and the Delta variant spreads faster and easier than the original form of the virus. To trick-or-treat safely, Dr. Garcia Carreno recommends families take the following steps:

Tips for safe trick-or-treating

  • Make sure everyone in your household who is eligible has gotten the COVID‑19 vaccine
  • Trick-or-treat with members of the same household or in a small group
  • Wear a mask (if over age 2), especially if you will be going indoors in public. While masks are not usually needed outdoors, it's recommended you wear a mask in areas with high COVID‑19 spread when in crowded outdoor settings or for activities with close contact with people who may not be fully vaccinated.
    • Consider finding a protective mask that goes with your child's costume. It's important to know that a costume mask is not a substitute for a protective cloth mask. In addition, children should not wear a costume mask over the top of a protective mask, as that could make breathing difficult.
  • Avoid crowded spaces and maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet between others
  • If giving out candy, offer treat items that are individually wrapped and placed on a table – rather than having children crowd together to reach into shared bowls
  • Wash or sanitize hands before eating candy

For the safety of others, do not join in-person Halloween activities if you or a member of your household has recently been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID‑19.

Prioritize outdoor Halloween activities

When choosing which activities to participate in this year, opt for ones that allow you to stay outdoors and social distance – such as trips to a pumpkin patch, a walk through a corn maze or neighborhood trick-or-treating. In terms of COVID‑19 exposure, these activities are safer than indoor Halloween parties or haunted houses with large crowds.

"In general, outdoor activities are safer than indoor gatherings, especially if the open space allows us to distance 6 feet from each other," Dr. Garcia Carreno explains.

In some cases, events may have attendee limits or may require the pre-purchase of timed-entry tickets to help maintain manageable crowd sizes and promote social distancing. Check ahead of time to see what safety precautions certain events are taking.

Other safe ways to enjoy the Halloween season

There are dozens of ways to have fun while celebrating Halloween as a family – including many that can be done at home with little risk of COVID‑19 exposure. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Watch Halloween-themed episodes of your children's favorite animated TV series or an age-appropriate Halloween movie
  • Bake and decorate pumpkins or ghost-shaped cookies
  • Decorate the interior or exterior of your house with fall or Halloween holiday décor and lights
  • Make homemade Halloween greeting cards for neighbors or family members
  • Carve jack-o'-lanterns or paint pumpkins with members of your family or outside at a safe distance with neighbors or friends

In addition to COVID‑19 precautions, make sure you take other steps to keep children safe if trick-or-treating this year, such as making sure children are visible and staying together as a group. See 10 trick-or-treat safety tips.

More COVID‑19 resources

Children's Health is committed to remaining a trusted source of health information and care for you and your family during this time. See more resources to keep your family healthy at the Children's Health COVID‑19 hub.

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