CDC releases considerations for Halloween

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Parents all over the country wonder what to do about Halloween. Is it safe to allow trick or treating? Is it legal? What about parties? Of course, the answers to these questions will vary depending on where you live, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed some considerations to help you make decisions. These considerations are designed to supplement, not replace, any state or local laws, rules or regulations.

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.

Lower-risk activities
These lower-risk activities can be safe alternatives:

• 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.

Moderate-risk activities
• Participating in 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).
If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second 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.
Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cookouts.

Higher-risk activities
Avoid these higher-risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:
• 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.

After the celebration
If you participated in higher-risk activities or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions (in addition the ones listed above) for 14 days after the event to protect others:

• Stay home as much as possible.
• Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
• Consider getting tested for COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately contact the host and others that attended the event or celebration that you attended. They may need to inform other attendees about their possible exposure to the virus. Contact your health care provider and follow the CDC-recommended steps for what to do if you become sick, and follow the public health recommendations for community-related exposure.

If you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results, stay home until you have a result, and follow CDC’s guidance to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker may contact you to check on your health and ask you whom you’ve been in contact with and where you’ve spent time in order to identify and provide support to people (contacts) who may have been infected. Your information will be confidential.

If you are notified that you were a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19”

• Stay home for 14 days from the last time you had contact with that person.
• Monitor for symptoms of coronavirus.
• Get information about COVID-19 testing if you feel sick.

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