Don’t let coronavirus scare you away from your family’s Halloween celebration. Tips and creative ideas to stay safe and have fun.
Like everything else, Halloween is going to look and feel a little different this year. Some traditions – like carving a pumpkin – will likely stay the same, but others such as the time-honored trick-or-treating will require some reevaluation.
“We must not forget that we are still in the midst of a health pandemic,” says Dr. Vivian Volterre, a physician at White Plains Hospital’s Family Health Center. “Large groups of kids congregating, knocking on strangers’ doors, and touching faces to get scary masks and vampire makeup just right, are certainly not the best practices for the year 2020.”
Governor Cuomo has said he will not ban this year’s spooky candy quest (although individual towns might impose their own restrictions), so parents will be left to help their children make wise decisions about how best to celebrate this October 31. The following are some resources to help you make an educated decision.
Know Your ‘COVID Color Zone’
Before you plan anything, visit the Halloween2020 website and evaluate the risk in your area, as rates of infection are different depending on where you live. This website, a partnership between the Halloween & Costume Association, UNICEF and other partners, assigns each county in the nation a color zone (green, yellow, orange or red). It provides safety guidelines to follow for each zone, such as drive-by trick or treating or “yeeting treats” (throwing candy) to kids six feet away if you are in a “Yellow” zone, or having a Zoom party or at-home scavenger hunt if you are in the “Red” zone, which signifies a current hotspot.
Attend a Local Socially-Distanced Halloween Event
Hudson Valley Halloween lovers are fortunate that the State Capitol of Halloween just so happens to be right down the road in Sleepy Hollow. Many of the town’s much anticipated events like The Blaze and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery Walking Tours are still on, but capacity is reduced to ensure social distancing. Other parades and public events have been canceled. VisitSleepyHollow.com has the full scoop on the status of 2020 events as well as links for more information and registration.
Rethink the Costume
Yes, dressed-up kids still should wear a proper face covering or mask when trick or treating or attending a Halloween party – and no, a Halloween mask doesn’t eliminate the need for the recommended surgical or cloth covering, notes Dr. Volterre. Latex or plastic masks have mouth openings that will not properly reduce aerosols from escaping, and constantly taking the mask on and off will up the risk of exposure, she notes.
- Consider a costume that incorporates a fun Halloween themed nose and mouth covering (there are literally tons on Amazon)
- Get creative and draw cat or dog whiskers and noses on a blank mask -- or better yet,
- Find a pair of scrubs and send your kiddo out as a White Plains Hospital Healthcare Hero!
Trick or ‘Socially Distanced’ Treat
If you do make the decision to trick-or-treat this year, use a few simple rules for staying as distanced and safe as possible, says Dr. Volterre:
- Limit the candy collecting squad to your family only
- Start out as early as possible, avoiding peak times of 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
- Carry hand sanitizer in the goodie bag and use it regularly
- Take candy directly from the bowl to avoid hand contact
- No sneaking candy in between houses!
- Let all candy sit in the bag for three days before opening/eating
It goes without saying that if anyone feels sick or is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, stay home! For more guidance on holidays and coronavirus risk, visit the CDC’s Holiday Celebrations page.