SAN ANTONIO – Believe it or not, Halloween has arrived.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic not letting up, the 2020 version may not look the same as in recent years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued tips to follow for those who are in the spooky spirit but don’t want to jeopardize the health of themselves or their household.
The CDC wants you to wear a mask this year, but they are warning against those plastic costume masks. It also recommends against wearing a costume mask over a cloth mask because it could make it dangerously hard to breathe. “Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask” that is “made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face,” the CDC says.
In addition to wearing a cloth mask, the CDC says it’s best to celebrate outdoors as much as possible, wash your hands/use hand sanitizer, don’t go out if you’re feeling COVID-19 symptoms and maintain social distancing.
The CDC also listed out three categories of activities — low, moderate and high risk — for Halloween festivities:
- Lower risk activities include carving pumpkins with members of your household, decorating, holding a scavenger hunt or holding a virtual Halloween costume contest. Another activity includes holding a pumpkin carving party outdoors with neighbors or friends at a safe distance.
- Moderate risk activities include setting up a one-way trick-or-treating station, having a small costume parade outdoors, holding an outdoor costume party where guests wear masks, visiting pumpkin patches or orchards, and holding an outdoor Halloween movie night. Open-air, one-way haunted forests where masks are enforced are also moderate-risk activities.
- Higher risk activities include heading to indoor haunted houses, participating in traditional trick-or-treating, participating in trunk-or-treating, attending crowded indoor costume parties, traveling to a fall festival or going to a hayride/tractor ride with people outside your household.
If you’re hosting or attending a party, the CDC advises taking these factors into consideration:
- Check the level of community spread of COVID-19 in your city. “Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees,” the CDC states.
- Choose a location with good ventilation if the gathering is indoors. Indoor gatherings lend themselves to greater spread of the virus, the CDC states. Consider opening windows or doors.
- Gatherings shouldn’t be too long, as they pose more of a risk for virus spread.
- Gatherings should stay limited to reduce the risk of spread. “CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations,” the website states.
- Host parties with people only from your community if possible.
- Consider where party attendees are traveling from and their maturity. Guests who do not adhere to social distancing or do not wear masks pose a greater risk, the CDC states.
- Ask guests to avoid contact with people outside their household prior to attending the gathering.
- Avoid contact like handshaking, elbow bumping or hugging.
- Attendees should avoid singing, chanting or shouting, especially when not wearing a mask.
The CDC says that “If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.”
And if you attend a higher risk activity, or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, the CDC recommends that you stay home as much as possible for the next 14 days to avoid exposing others.