Halloween is approaching and children are looking forward to putting on their costumes and receiving candy from neighbors. However, trick-or-treating may look a little different this year due to COVID-19 risks associated with traditional Halloween activities. Infectious Diseases doctors at University of Utah Health offer advice to celebrate Halloween safely this year.
Currently, the state of Utah is labeled as a "red zone" by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. "Except for a few counties, we have extremely high rates of COVID-19 transmission in Utah," says Sankar Swaminathan, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at U of U Health. According to the latest Task Force report, Utah has the fifth-highest transmission rate in the U.S. and is one of three states that led the nation in new coronavirus cases for two weeks in a row in late September and early October. Health care professionals at U of U Health find it extremely important to take this into consideration when planning Halloween activities.
Due to the risk of transmission of COVID-19, trick-or-treating is not advisable. "Going door to door is asking for trouble," Swaminathan says. "Coming into contact with many people who are not in your immediate family is a sure way to spread infection." The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labels traditional trick-or-treating as a high-risk activity. Other high-risk activities include large costume parties and Halloween activities held indoors.
There are safer ways to enjoy Halloween. The safest way is to celebrate with your immediate family. If you'd like to celebrate with others, it's important to follow and practice COVID-19 safety guidelines: wear a face mask, physical distance, and frequently wash your hands. Below are some safer ways to celebrate:
Treat giving with no contact
- If passing out candy, put individual wrapped candies in separate bags.
- Wash your hands and wear a face mask beforehand.
- Open goodie bags and pour individual wrapped candies inside.
- Put treat bags on a table outside.
- Watch at a distance to guide children how much candy to take.
Organize treat giving with people you trust
- It's hard to know whether people will take safety precautions when handing out candy.
- Organize treat giving with a specific group of people.
- Outline safety precautions such as individual goodie bags and treat giving with no contact.
Eat candy safely
- It's not wise to dig into your candy right away if you do not know whether safety precautions were not taken before receiving Halloween treats.
- Wair until you get home to consume.
- Wash your hands.
- Wipe down candy with disinfectant and let dry.
- Wash hands afterwards.
Have a small gathering outside
- Everyone needs to have a face covering, even if your costume includes a mask.
- Maintain physical distancing.
- Have hand sanitizer available.
- Make sure food, drinks, and treats are served as individually wrapped portions. Wash your hands and wear a face mask before preparing.
- Physical distance during activities such as pumpkin carving.
Although not recommended, if you do plan to trick-or-treat, it's important to wear a face covering, physical distance between other groups, and clean your hands frequently with hand sanitizer. Here are some other alternate ways to participate in Halloween.
Do not participate in any Halloween activities if you are sick. Stay home and schedule an appointment to get tested for COVID-19 if you meet the criteria. You can schedule a COVID-19 test appointment at U of U Health through MyChart, online, or through the coronavirus hotline by calling 801-587-0712 or toll free at 844-745-9325.