A COVID-Safe Halloween

Bay Area health officials are asking residents to forego trick-or-tricking and other typical Halloween and Día de los Muertos traditions in favor of activities that have less risk of spreading COVID-19.


“Trick-or-treating is a high-risk activity, because it increases contact with people outside of your household who may not be as careful about COVID-19 prevention. Parties are high-risk, because mixing among people who don’t live in the same home introduces more opportunities for the virus to pass from one person to another,” county health officials said in a joint statement. “Bay Area contact tracing has shown that gathering and mixing are key contributors to infection.” 


But officials say there are lower-risk ways to celebrate the holidays, from decorating your home and setting out grab-and-go treat bags to participating in drive-through events, socially distanced costume parades or movie nights.


While the usual coronavirus prevention tips apply – stay home if you’re sick or have been in contact with someone who is, outdoors is safer than indoors – there are some special advisements for Halloween. Health officials point out that costume masks are not a substitute for cloth masks, but that the two should not be worn together because that could make it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a themed cloth mask. In addition, many gatherings remain prohibited by state and local health orders.


The health officers offer the following guidelines for celebrating safely:


LOWER RISK: Stay Home, Keep It Small

• Celebrating Halloween traditions like carving pumpkins or a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in your home.

• Visiting an outdoor pumpkin patch, while wearing a mask and maintaining distance from others.

• Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at least 6 feet apart while wearing masks, with a very small group of neighbors or friends. Fewer people with more distance is safer.

• Having a virtual costume contest.

• Dressing up your house, apartment, living space, yard or car with Halloween decorations or decorating homes with images and objects to honor deceased loved ones.

• Preparing traditional family recipes with members of your household.

• Playing music in your home that your deceased loved ones enjoyed.

• Making and decorating masks or making an altar for the deceased.

• Participating in vehicle-based gatherings that comply with state and local guidance like drive-in movies and drive-through attractions, or car/bike parades where participants do not leave their vehicles.

       • Avoid driving in areas where there are many pedestrians.

       • Spectators should watch from their homes or yards and not gather with people they do not live with.



• Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to physically distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)

       • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.

       • Ensure everyone is wearing an appropriate face covering and maintaining a physical distance from others.

       • Everyone participating should bring hand sanitizer and use it frequently AND wash their hands immediately after coming home.

       • Candy shouldn’t be eaten while outside the home because that would require both removing the face mask and touching wrappers.

• Having a very small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade or movie night where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart and are wearing masks. Fewer people with more distance is safer.

• Enjoying themed outdoor dining that complies with state and local guidance or takeout.


HIGHER RISK: Please Avoid

• Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door. Although this activity is outdoors, it is higher risk because it brings multiple people from different households together.

• Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19. Doing so can bring COVID-19 into the area and threaten the residents’ lives.

If trick-or-treating is occurring in your neighborhood and you are at home and do not want to be disturbed, you may want to post a sign or turn off your porch light.

VERY HIGH RISK or Not Permitted by State and Local Orders

• Attending a crowded party held indoors or outdoors. Large gatherings, even if they are outdoors, are high risk for spreading COVID-19 and are associated with many cases throughout the Bay Area.

• Sharing, eating, drinking, speaking loudly or singing amongst others outside of your household.

• Haunted houses or indoor mazes.

• Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.

Janine DeFao is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags