Let’s start with the obvious: This Halloween will be very different than any other Halloween. It doesn’t necessarily have to be less fun — there’s still candy and costumes and macabre celebration — but the pandemic definitely makes it more complicated. And so, to help families navigate the holiday safely, the CDC has issued new Halloween guidelines for 2020.
There are some things that shouldn’t come as a surprise because they follow our current rules: No parties, no crowds, and no breaking social distancing rules. This means no classic walk-up-to-the-house type of trick or treating. Instead, the CDC has outlined how to celebrate Halloween safely in three tiers: lower risk, moderate risk, and high risk. Depending on where you live, how you celebrate the holiday will vary.
The higher risk guidelines include all the stuff you would’ve done in a normal year like door-to-door trick or treating, attending costume parties held indoors, and drinking alcohol with friends who aren’t from your household (which could lead to clouding your judgment and breaking social distancing rules). These aren’t designed to ruin your Halloween – they’re backed by the science we’ve been learning about the pandemic all year. For example, interstate traveling and leaving your region to go elsewhere was discovered to be a huge threat to spreading the disease across the country. This is why the CDC also warns against traveling outside of your area to attend a festival or activity elsewhere, especially if you’re going from an area with high cases into one with lower cases.
“A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask.”
So what can you do this year? Lower risk activities include doing things that involve just those in your household and indoors away from other people. So pumpkin carving with your kids, decorating your house, and doing a scavenger hunt around the yard is safer than doing these things with your kids’ friends involved – even if it is outdoors.
But if you’re in a lower-risk area and want to engage in some of those higher-risk or moderate-risk activities, make sure to follow your pandemic rules very strictly. This includes frequently sanitizing your hands, and wearing your mask — both your Michael Myers mask and the CDC-approved face mask underneath to curb the spread of germs.
“A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask,” the statement says. “A costume mask 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.”
This comes with another caveat: don’t wear a heavy costume mask over a protective cloth mask, which can make it difficult to breathe, making it more likely that you or your kid will take it off. Instead, consider a Halloween-themed breathable cloth mask that covers your mouth and your nose.
“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.”
The most important takeaway from the guidelines is to stay home if you’re sick or displaying any symptoms. Even if you’re not showing any symptoms and feel fine, if you’ve been traveling or have been around a lot of people, it’s best to stay at home because you might be asymptomatic. “Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween,” the CDC website states. “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.”