CHICAGO (CBS) — With the CDC warning people to avoid door-to-door trick-or-treating and crowded costume parties this Halloween, the Chicago Department of Public Health plans to soon release guidance for how to safely celebrate the holiday during the pandemic.
“We are not cancelling Halloween, but we do expect to see different type of Halloween celebrations than we’ve seen in prior years,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier this month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot made it clear Halloween will look much different this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19, although she stopped short of saying she would outright ban trick-or-treating as Los Angeles County has done.
“It is a very different time, and I don’t expect to see mass crowds out trick-or-treating like we have in years past. It’s not safe for the children, it’s not safe for the adults,” Lightfoot said earlier this month.
Arwady said CDPH is still working on its guidance for Halloween, which is now about five weeks away.
“We know people need to plan, so there will be some additional guidance coming out shortly,” she said.
Arwady said the guidelines will depend on the city’s COVID-19 infection rates as we get closer to Halloween.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m more worried about the adults than I am the children to be perfectly honest. I am worried about the potential for large indoor gatherings, and I’m worried about people, again, letting their guard down because of Halloween,” she said.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for safely celebrating the holiday. Among its suggestions: no door-do-door trick-or-treating, no crowded costume parties, and no indoor haunted houses.
Instead, the CDC is suggesting activities like pumpkin carving with people in your household, virtual costume contests, and scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat searches at home.
Full CDC guidance:
- 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 judgement 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
Moderate-risk activities include:
- One-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance, such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard
- Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
- Attending an outdoor costume parties using protective masks, with people staying more than 6 feet apart
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest, while wearing a mask, and keeping at least 6 feet of distance from others
- 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, or even further if they’ll be screaming at a scary movie
Lower-risk activities considered safe alternatives for Halloween include:
- 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
In any case, the CDC said costume masks are not a safe substitute for protective cloth masks, and should not be used unless they are made of at least two layers of breathable fabric, and cover both the mouth and nose without any gaps. You also shouldn’t wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask, because it can be difficult to breathe while wearing both. Instead, consider designing or buying a Halloween-themed cloth mask.