Halloween and COVID-19: Dos and Don’ts to Stay Safe This Year

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Kids have been free to get back to trick-or treating for the past couple of years, but with new variants and rising case counts, we still recommend sensible caution. Outside activities are preferred over indoor parties, and masks are encouraged in close quarters and for people who are at high risk or unvaccinated.

We’ve updated our list of simple dos and don’ts to help you get your ghoul on without putting your health (or that of at-risk loved ones) in the danger zone.

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Video: How to celebrate Halloween during COVID-19

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COVID-19 Halloween dos

DO celebrate the season: Halloween can be a lot more than just one day on the calendar. Use the whole season to stretch out the celebration this year.

  • Get the whole family in on decorating the house, front porch, and yard.
  • Put creativity to work with an open-air socially-distanced pumpkin carving and decorating party.
  • Instead of bobbing for apples, make some homemade apple cider or some yummy pumpkin bread.
  • Look for a haunted forest to visit instead of an indoor haunted house (make sure you’re able to socially distance and wear a mask).

DO wear a mask: And not just the one that goes with your Halloween costume. Even if you’re wearing a Halloween mask, an approved face covering over your nose and mouth is still recommended in high-transmission spots to help protect others. Masks are especially important in close, crowded indoor settings or around people who aren't vaccinated. It might be tempting to slip your mask under your costume, but that can inhibit breathing. It’s better to find a face mask that works with your overall Halloween look.

DO go virtual: We get it—Zoom is getting old—but you can spice up your screentime with a costume contest, a Jack-o-lantern gallery, or a virtual viewing party of your favorite fiendish film. If you’ve got storytellers in your midst, try a spooky story session or crack open an old favorite like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

DO keep it small: Whether it’s a spooky backyard movie night or pumpkin carving, limit the number of people you invite. Start with people who are already in your household or “bubble.” Then check local guidelines for your area's transmission risk level. Just remember—the smaller the group, the safer your Halloween event will be for everyone who attends.

DO offer single servings: It’s may not be the  classic Miss Manners way, but right now the hostess (or ghostess) with the mostess puts safety first. Keep everyone as safe as possible by serving snacks and drinks that aren't communal (avoid that big Chex mix bowl where everyone grabs their own handful). Fulfill your gracious hosting habit by providing hand sanitizer and ample access to safe, sanitized handwashing stations.

DO wash and wait: If you end up trick-or-treating in one form or another, make sure all the little hands in your horde wash up after grabbing the goodies. 

DO stick close to home: It might be tempting to head out of town to explore an apple orchard or a sprawling pumpkin patch. Because they’re outside, these seem like good options this season, but moving into a new community can help expose you (and others) to the latest strains of the novel coronavirus. Your safest bet is to stick to activities in your neck of the woods.

DO watch the trends: Coronavirus recommendations can change daily, so keep an eye on what’s happening in your town or neighborhood. Areas that see a sudden spike in positive COVID-19 cases might shut down Halloween activities that were previously approved.

COVID-19 Halloween don’ts

DON’T close the windows: Open windows in homes and cars if you've got a crowd. Ventilation is your friend—turn up the heat, offer blankets, light a (safely) burning fire, or provide extra coats to keep everyone toasty.

DON'T get crowded: If you're at an indoor party,  make it easy for kids to keep their distance. Section off different areas for each activity. Then put party-goers in smaller groups and plan a route to move through the stations so no activity gets overwhelmed with too many kiddos at once.  

DON’T over-serve: We could all use a refreshing beverage these days, but resist the urge to serve up a spiked witches brew this season. Alcohol consumption lowers inhibitions and can make it easier for us to get lax about safe COVID-19 practices.

DON’T get too gloomy: It seems like we'll never escape COVID-19 (not to mention the flu), but we’ve learned a lot in the past few years. Use that knowledge to safely celebrate and share this haunted holiday with friends and family.

Resources for a safe Halloween during the coronavirus

We’re committed to safety, and the global pandemic is definitely keeping us all on our toes. To help you navigate this often-changing landscape, here are some resources about the latest coronavirus guidelines, area restrictions, and traditional tips to make any Halloween safer.

Coronavirus Halloween resources:

Traditional Halloween safety tips:

Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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