September 23, 2020 -- The CDC is discouraging door-to-door trick-or-treating, costume masks and Halloween parties this year to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC posted guidance about holiday celebrations on Monday evening, including details about Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and Thanksgiving.
“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” the CDC wrote. “There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween.”
Virtual celebrations and household gatherings pose the lowest risk for spreading the virus, according to the guidance. The CDC recommends carving and displaying pumpkins, decorating houses and living spaces, hosting a virtual costume contest, having a Halloween movie night at home, setting up an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt that allows families to walk around with social distancing, or creating an at-home scavenger hunt for household members to search for treats together.
Moderate-risk activities include small outdoor gatherings with open-air activities, the CDC wrote, such as parades or costume parties where people can stay 6 feet apart. Families may consider participating in “one-way” trick-or-treating, where children can pick up individually-wrapped treat bags from homes at a distance — at the end of a driveway or the edge of a yard.
Other outdoor activities, such as pumpkin patches and movie nights, can work well as long as people follow social distancing guidelines, stay in their household group and wash their hands often.
Importantly, the CDC noted, costume masks aren’t a substitute for cloth masks that prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Wearing a costume mask over a cloth mask could make breathing difficult, so the CDC recommended a Halloween-themed cloth mask that has two or more layers of breathable fabric and covers the mouth and nose.
The highest-risk activities include traditional trick-or-treating, crowded indoor parties and hayrides where people sit close together with others not in their household. The CDC discouraged these activities and any events where people may hand treats directly to children or interact with each other for extended periods in close proximity.
The CDC also suggested checking state, local, territorial and tribal rules about holiday gatherings.
“When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel or limit the number of attendees,” the CDC wrote.