Halloween is approaching and many are wondering whether it’s safe to participate in traditional spooky celebrations this year. While some communities have prohibited trick-or-treating altogether during the pandemic, residents in others have conjured up innovative solutions like candy chutes and pulley systems to reduce the risk. But which activities are considered safe?
Tufts Medical Center Hospital Epidemiologist and Infectious Disease physician Shira Doron, MD weighed in on the risk associated with trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities.
Is trick-or-treating a safe activity this year?
There are no risk-free social activities during the pandemic, but some are safer than others. Traditional trick-or-treating can pose a risk when children congregate on doorsteps, interact closely with adults who are giving out candy, and put their hands into the same bowl as many others. That being said, the fact that trick-or-treating takes place outside reduces the risk substantially.
Is it true that trick-or-treating is lower risk than attending a Halloween party because it is an outdoor activity?
Yes. The virus that causes COVID-19 is much less likely to be transmitted outside than during an indoor party.
Is it safe to hand out candy if I wear a mask? What precautions should I take?
If you are older or have underlying medical conditions, you should think twice about whether you want to take the risk of interacting with large numbers of people, some of whom are likely carrying the virus. Some fans of Halloween are leaving candy out for children to take as they pass the house, or even creating chutes they send candy down while staying a safer distance from trick or treaters. If you are going to open your door and hand out candy, wearing a mask is very important both for your own safety and that of the trick or treaters.
How can I make trick-or-treating safer for my child?
Remind your child of the importance of keeping his or her mask on (a Halloween mask usually does not qualify as a face covering for infection prevention purposes), stay six feet apart from others, and clean his or her hands before touching his or her face or eating.
What activities would be lower risk than trick-or-treating this year (i.e. carving pumpkins as a family, etc.)?
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (Mass DPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites have some great suggestions for making Halloween special and fun this year. Who knows? You may even find that your child thinks this was the best Halloween ever.