CDC releases Halloween guidance

An attendee from last year’s Fall Festival at Christ Lutheran eyes the candy and goodies from the trunk-or-treat feature. This year the church is having a mechanical bull instead to tie in with the other features of the fall festival, which includes a petting zoo and pony rides. Photo courtesy of Christ Lutheran Church

Halloween won’t be the same this year, as celebrations will have to be done differently to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many traditional Halloween activities, such as door-to-door trick-or-treating, indoor haunted houses, costume parties and trunk or treating, have been deemed by the CDC to be “higher risk” activities that should be avoided this year. 

In lieu of those Halloween classics, the CDC recommends “lower risk” activities that can be safe alternatives, including pumpkin carving, decorating homes, virtual costume contests or scavenger hunts with your household members. 

Other activities deemed “moderate risk,” such as small costume parades, outdoor movie nights, and one-way trick-or-treating with pre-wrapped goodie bags — all of which are recommended be done outdoors, where participants continue to distance themselves — can be considered.

These guidelines follow similar ones issued by the L.A. County Department of Public Health earlier this month, which also warn of the dangers of participating in traditional Halloween activities. 

Halloween gatherings, events or parties with non-household members, even if they are conducted outdoors, along with carnivals, festivals, live entertainment and haunted house attractions will not be permitted in L.A. County this year, Public Health guidelines stated. 

While masks are a Halloween staple, a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask, according to the CDC, which also doesn’t advise layering costume masks over protective cloth masks, as it could make it difficult to breathe.

In addition, the CDC issued guidelines for celebrating Día de Los Muertos and Thanksgiving, as well as Black Friday shopping. 

“Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others,” the CDC’s guidelines stated. 

As with other guidelines, the CDC advises those celebrating either holiday to avoid large indoor gatherings, instead suggesting people celebrate with those in their households or hosting a virtual celebration. 

Shopping in crowded stores for Black Friday has been deemed “high risk,” with CDC officials instead suggesting people shop online rather than in person.

Regardless of the occasion, the CDC said those who may have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should not participate in in-person festivities.

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