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How Safe Is It To Trick-Or-Treat During The Covid-19 Pandemic?

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As adults, we understand the immediate dangers of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, it can be challenging to explain the safety issues to kids.

With Halloween just around the corner, kids are no doubt excited to dress up and go treat-or-treating this year. With the current Covid-19 pandemic doing its rounds, it can be difficult for parents to gauge whether it is safe to let them go or not.

Unfortunately, the short answer is “No!”

According to the CDC’s new safety guidelines, venturing out and participating in trick-or-treating or other Halloween activities during the pandemic is a risky venture. In fact, the CDC is actively discouraging Americans from following the tradition this year.

Although this is devastating news for most people, primarily young children, there seems to be no other option. Here is everything you need to know about trick-or-treating during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Is It Safe To Trick-Or-Treat During The Covid-19

Safety Issues With Participating In Halloween Activities This Year

The novel coronavirus has been just as horrifying as it was sudden in its approach. Unfortunately, it has caused a halt in most of our ‘normal’ activities. Everything has changed – from the way we work to the way we socialize. People are forced to remain in isolation, away from their friends and family.

One of the worst hits has been on our annual traditions. For most people, these traditions are a time of joy and celebration. However, due to lockdown restrictions and safety issues, most holidays that we would otherwise celebrate with our social groups have to be now celebrated in isolation.

Halloween, one of the most loved annual traditions, is fast approaching. Taking into account the safety of our families, children, and ourselves, trick-or-treating can be a dangerous activity.

What Do The Officials Have To Say About This?

The health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that though trick-or-treating brings lesser risks than other Halloween activities, all risk factors cannot be eliminated from this activity. That being said, they encourage parents to allow their children to participate in Halloween activities, which are easier to manage during these dire times.

The CDC states that the risk factors are lower for children who wish to head outside in relatively quiet, sparsely populated streets. Even so, there are health risks one should be careful with.

Sandra Kesh, an M.D, infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York’s Westmed Medical Group states – “In an area where there’s still ongoing community spread [and things] haven’t gotten to the point where things are opening up again, I don’t think trick-or-treating is a great idea.”

However, she also explains that in areas where the community prevalence is lower than others, it may be relatively safer to plan for trick-or-treating. Furthermore, she stresses the fact that the experience will be very different this year.

What Are Some High-Risk Halloween Activities During The Pandemic?

You might assume that the most significant threat posed during trick-or-treating during the Covid-19 pandemic would be candy distribution. In reality, the surface bacteria transmitted through the candy is not the main problem. In fact, it is something more grave.

The most significant risk factor is the way that the candy is distributed. This means that children going door to door for trick-or-treating is more problematic than the candy itself. Here are some of the most ‘problematic’ activities which families may indulge in this year during Halloween:

  • Encouraging children to participate in the traditional form of trick-or-treating, which involves them going door to door to collect candy.
  • Indulging in trunk-or-treat. This activity involves handing out treats from the trunks of cars that are lined up in parking lots.
  • Attendance of costume parties, typically held indoors with an abundance of crowds.
  • Attending indoor haunted house parties, which involve groups of people entering a ‘haunted house’ together without any form of social distancing maintained.
  • Going on traditional tractor rides and hayrides with strangers, or people who are not from your household.
  • Attending a rural fall festival that is held outside of your community (especially if your community has active spreading cases of Covid-19).

Can These Risks Be Lowered?

Fortunately, the CDC officials have explained certain things you can do to lower your risk of contamination, yet enjoy trick-or-treating this Halloween. These include:

1. Activities In Your Area

This year, it is simply not a safe decision to venture out of your community for trick-or-treating. As devastating as that sounds, there is no other way to keep yourself and your families safe.

If you are eager to indulge in Halloween activities during the pandemic, you can do so by indulging in the activities in a controlled environment. This can be your own backyard or a friend’s, or within the neighborhood.

Moreover, carving pumpkins is an activity that is synonymous with Halloween. Thankfully, this is an activity that you can indulge in within your own home. Maybe encourage the children to carve pumpkins with you inside the home. Help them decorate the inside of your home, backyard, garden, and patio.

2. Virtual Halloween Costume Contest

There’s nothing like dressing up in cool costumes for Halloween. It is an activity that most Halloween lovers look forward to throughout the year, planning their outfits and getting them ready. Of course, it is quite shocking to come to terms with the fact that this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, costume parties are not going to be possible.

When everything is turning virtual now, why not do the same with Halloween costume parties? This year, encourage your family and friends to dress up in costumes and participate in virtual Halloween costume contests. The joy and fun of getting dressed up don’t have to be forgone just because of the pandemic.

3. Movie Nights At Home

This is the perfect season to bring out all those great horror movies that you’ve meant to watch all year round. There is no better time than Halloween to bring out your favorite horror (or any other genre) movies and have a fun movie night with your family.

Since Netflix parties have become very popular since the lockdown, you can turn your family movie night into a fun activity to partake in with other family members or friends living away from you.

Of course, we understand that convincing the children to stay home instead of going trick-or-treating will not be easy. However, keeping their safety in mind, it is essential for you to find alternatives this year, so people do not feel disheartened about how they will be spending this Halloween.

4. Social Distancing Scavenger Hunt

The keyword during the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘social distancing.’ But when it comes to indulging in Halloween activities, is this really possible?

Well, with a little effort and some creativity, you can. During this period, when social distancing is the need of the hour, you can organize a Halloween scavenger hunt for the children. Create a list of Halloween-themed surprises that they need to find, which you can hide in your home, backyard, or even around the neighborhood.

They can participate in this fun game while still maintaining social distance, and also have a chance to admire the neighbors’ scary Halloween decorations.

What Are The Main Risks During Trick-Or-Treating?

It turns out; many families are still insistent on trick-or-treating during the pandemic this year. To this, the CDC explains that the primary health considerations during trick-or-treating depends on who you are going to participate in this activity. As such, there are a few critical factors to keep in mind, which can affect health risks. They are:

  • Joining A Large Group Of Friends

As we mentioned earlier, the primary health risk during this pandemic arises from who you are trick-or-treating with. Traditionally, you could allow the children to join in with a large group of friends. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, it matters greatly who you are in close proximity with (within a 6 feet distance for more than 10 to 15 minutes).

Joining a large group or going to a haunted house together, or even to someone else’s home, could pose a risk. It involves being with a large number of people within closed quarters (maybe without a mask on), which is dangerous.

  • Face-To-Face Exposure

Typically, the short face-to-face interaction that takes place during the ‘trick-or-treat’ process isn’t too dangerous, especially if you maintain your distance and wear a mask. That being said, the more number of households you visit, the greater your exposure and risk of infection. It is simply not a safe option to be going door to door for trick-or-treats during a pandemic.

  • Touching Surfaces

As adults, we know better than to touch our eyes, nose, mouth, or face after touching random surfaces. But how do you control this with kids? Generally, kids will continuously put their hands on their face and mouth. Moreover, during trick-or-treating, they are even more susceptible to touching candy, doors, and other surfaces and then touching their faces.

While it is possible to encourage them to wash their hands and use sanitizer, it isn’t possible to enforce it at all times.

Can They Trick-Or-Treat With Friends?

It is saddening to come to terms that any sort of social gathering, such as house parties, is not safe during this period. Children who insist on going trick-or-treating, limiting their group to just 3 or 4 kids would be a safer option. While it is not ideal, it is the only safe alternative at the moment.

Moreover, it is vital to wear a mask at all times. Of course, keeping in mind that many Halloween costumes already involve the use of masks – it isn’t safe to wear a face mask under the costume mask, as it can become suffocating or claustrophobic.

Should You Encourage Trick-Or-Treaters?

Unless you want to entirely skip on the tradition this year, where you decide not to answer the door for kids, it is important to take precautions while giving out candy to kids. Firstly, ensure you’re always wearing a mask. Furthermore, keep your interaction as brief as possible.

We understand this is not ideal; however, safety is tantamount at the moment. Wash your hands as frequently as you can, especially after giving out candy and answering the door for trick-or-treaters. It is also a good idea to disinfect your porch, door, doorknobs, doorbells, etc.

Is It Safe To Use A Candy Bowl?

If you are feeling anxious about encouraging face-to-face interaction and the risk of infection, offering candy bowls may be a perfectly reasonable alternative. That being said, the communal bowl may pose a threat to kids who have no choice but to dip their hands into the same bowl for their treats.

Alternatively, you can choose to make Halloween goodie bags and fill them with treats for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters. This way, they can simply walk away with a goodie bag, eliminating interaction with you and the risk of sifting through the same bowl for their treats.

Do You Need To Disinfect Your Child’s Candy?

It’s true. SARS-CoV-2 particles have the ability to survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours. However, the Halloween candy which your child brings back home isn’t really a huge risk in transmitting any virus to them.

The best thing you can do is to tell your children to bring the candy back home, instead of eating it on the way. This way, you can ensure that they wash their hands before eating the candy. It isn’t imperative to disinfect the candy itself, as most of it is under wrappers and not at any serious risk of transmitting the virus.

How To Keep Trick-Or-Treating Safe

You can implement a few other things just for added safety, especially if your kids insist on trick-or-treating this year. These are:

  • Establish some ground rules. Teach them the intention behind social distancing and how they can enjoy their Halloween activities without necessarily breaking the social distancing barriers. Moreover, tell them not to dip their hands into communal candy bowls, as it is risky. Instead, teach them to pick out a piece of candy and stick to it, rather than sifting through the bowl
  • During the pandemic – sharing is not caring. Tell them not to share their costumes, masks, and even goodie bags with friends.
  • It’s essential to be safe. Teach them how to safely use sanitizer and not touch their face and mouth when they are outside.

Final Words

We understand that your favorite holiday will be quite a different experience this year. However, there is nothing more important than the safety of you and your family.

By keeping a few important rules in mind and educating the kids about why they must practice safe habits, it is possible to enjoy this holiday even during the pandemic. As far as possible, encourage them to stay home. You should organize activities which will keep them busy and encourage virtual meets and costume parties.

Here’s wishing you a very happy and safe Halloween!

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