Activities the CDC considers high risk include:*Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.*Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.*Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.*Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.*Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.*Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.*Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.
With the pandemic far from under control as families begin to consider traditional fall activities, local and national experts have suggested the spookiest part of Halloween this year may be the threat of infection through activities such as trick-or-treating.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that it considers “traditional trick-or-treating” considered high risk, but Chicago’s health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, in public comments so far has not provided details as to whether it will be allowed in the city, and if so, with what restrictions. During a Tuesday news conference, she again echoed remarks made Sept. 15 when she said there remains time for the city’s infection rate to decrease before Oct. 31, but acknowledged that regardless, Halloween will look different this year.Arwady said, “We are not canceling Halloween, but we do expect to see a different type of Halloween celebrations. I’ll be honest with you, I’m more worried about the adults than I am the children.”The city is aware of the CDCs announcement and is closely following local infection rate data and spread at open area schools, which will drive the decision about what kind of festivities will be allowed heading into the fall and winter seasons, Arwady said. Until she has in hand all the latest numbers, she said she “would not proactively impose additional restrictions.”“Halloween is the question of the day today, but just coming after that we’re going to be seeing Thanksgiving and other holidays,” she said. “Right now we’re feeling pretty good heading into our fall season.“But we will stick to what our local data looks like to make those local decisions.”She declined to provide details about potential options for families but suggested parents with young children begin speaking to their kids about the possibility that they won’t go trick-or-treating.In a question-and-answer format online, Dr. Colleen Nash, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Rush University Medical Center, said the idea of trick-or-treating should be downright scary for parents because of all the unknowns with people they may encounter."Many of us will need to prepare our kids for a different Halloween celebration this year. Trick-or-treating is a cherished tradition, but having families roam the streets in large groups, knocking on doors and exchanging items is the opposite of social distancing.“And, can you trust everyone on the street or handing out candy is properly masked and has clean hands? Just as they did for summer holidays, some families will decide to have a party, but that can be just as risky,” Nash wrote.The CDC issued guidance for Halloween 2020 that ranks activities from low risk to high risk for spreading COVID-19. It explicitly advised anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 to sit out the festivities this year, which includes not answering the door for visitors."Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween.If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters," the CDC says on its website. Organized by threat level, below is the center’s stance on a variety of traditional events.Activities the CDC believes pose a moderate risk of spreading COVID-19 include: Participating in one-way trick-or-treating in which individually wrapped goody bags are lined up for families to grab and take while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard). Those preparing the bags should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags. Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart. Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask. Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus. Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing. Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.According to the CDC these activities are at low risk for spreading the virus: Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them. Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends. Decorating your house, apartment or living space. Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. Having a virtual Halloween costume contest. Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with. Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.