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How to Trick-or-Treat Safely During COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Author name: Lee Health


Halloween and COVID--19 Graphic

Halloween trick-or-treating is back! Last year, COVID-19 canceled everyone’s favorite festivity for donning costumes and eating treats. But public health experts caution the holiday still poses risks for unvaccinated individuals, including young children, due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Dr. Stephanie Stovall, our resident pediatric infectious disease expert, shares some tips on how to stay safe while having a “spooktacular” time.

Q: What’s the safest thing we can do before we trick-or-treat in our neighborhoods?

A: If you’re not vaccinated, please get vaccinated. If you’re eligible for a booster, meaning age 65 and older or those at risk of severe illness, get the booster shot.

Q: So, it’s safe to trick-or-treat outdoors?

A: Outdoor activities are much safer than ones indoors, but small gatherings are safest. Wear a mask (and not just the costume kind) if in a crowded environment, whether indoors or outdoors. This is especially important for children who are ineligible for vaccination. Even outdoors, this is recommended for unvaccinated kids if they are going to be around other people.

Most costume masks alone aren’t effective at stopping the spread of germs. Your unvaccinated child should wear at least a two-ply face mask. If they’re also going to use a costume mask, make sure they can breathe comfortably. Don’t place masks on children who are unable to remove them without assistance.

Neighbors should also wear masks, even if they’re vaccinated. Avoid the use of communal candy bowls, which invite eager hands. Instead, adults should either hand out individual bags to each child or leave individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) on a table in driveways or in front of walkways, sidewalks, or any outdoor space where six feet of distance can be maintained.

Here are other trick-or-treating tips:

  • Keep your child’s trick-or-treating group small, maybe just to siblings or a close friend.
  • Visit just the homes of friends you know well, maybe just the ones on your street. This will help limit unnecessary exposure to others.
  • Social distance. Stay at least six feet from people who don’t live with you.
  • Use sanitizer of at least 60 percent alcohol between home visits.
  • Avoid trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars in parking lots because they are often more crowded and difficult to distance.
  • Stay home if you might be sick. If any of your family members are feeling sick or think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, please stay home and quarantine.
  • Parents must always supervise young children.

Of course, you and your family can still have Halloween fun without actual trick-or-treating, say the experts.

The CDC suggests these great low-risk Halloween activities:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins as a family
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your home for the holiday
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with. 
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members around your home

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