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Although many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading respiratory illnesses, there are alternative ways to participate in Halloween that can reduce the risk.

“We realize that everyone wants to return to normal activities, but it’s important to continue to minimize person to person contact as much as possible,” said Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens. “Choosing holiday activities that reduce direct interaction with persons outside of your household can decrease the chance of spreading COVID-19 throughout the community.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these lower-risk activities as safer alternatives:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, or outside at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • 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 admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Spend the evening with the people in your household, having a Halloween movie night or a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search in or around your home

CDC advises that the following activities carry a bit more risk, but are not as high-risk as the more traditional activities:

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance. Wash hands before and after preparing bags.
  • Having a small-group, outdoor, open-air costume parade or costume party where protective masks are used and people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • Visiting 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
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends where people are spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • Increasing the distance to greater than 6 feet is advised if screaming will likely occur at any event. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • It is recommended to use a Halloween-themed cloth mask instead of a costume mask. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask and should not be used unless 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. It’s especially important not to wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it could make it hard to breathe.

The CDC recommends avoiding these higher risk activities which include close contact and could spread COVID-19:

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door or car-to-car
  • Attending crowded, indoor costume parties or haunted houses
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a fall festival that is not in your community.