California Public Health ‘strongly discourages’ trick-or-treating

Librarian Janine Wilson, left, dress as a witch cackles as children grab candy whilegoing room to room Trick or Treating during the annual Harvest Festival held at Rosedell Elementary School in Santa Clarita on Friday, October 26, 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal

California “strongly discourages” trick-or-treating and recommends residents celebrate Halloween and Día de los Muertos this year with those in the same household, according to state guidelines released Tuesday. 

“COVID-19 continues to pose an important risk, as we say time and time again,” said state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly during a news conference. “Some of the traditional Halloween celebrations, such as parties and door-to-door trick-or-treating, we know pose a high risk of spreading COVID, and are therefore strongly discouraged.” 

Families should begin planning safer alternatives now, he added. 

Safer alternatives California health officials recommend revolve around spending time with people in the same household or participating in virtual activities. Some can include having a scary movie night, pumpkin carving, online parties, contests or drive-in events, cemetery visits and virtual altars to honor lost loved ones. 

Guidelines come days after the state Public Health Department updated its protocols for private gatherings that bring together people from different households, which indicate that gatherings must be held outdoors and cannot include more than three households. 

Traditional celebrations, such as trick-or-treating, are discouraged because if a positive case is discovered, it could be challenging to conduct appropriate contact tracing, Ghaly said. 

The state’s guidelines mirror those issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Los Angeles County, which had reversed its guidelines from prohibiting to not recommending activities like door-to-door trick-or-treating. 

To read California’s complete guidance on the holidays, visit

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