With Halloween approaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people with children who don’t want to miss out on trick-or-treating likely have mixed feelings about it.
Trick-or-treating will be more difficult, but it is possible if you have safety top of mind for both the kids who are trick or treating and the adults who are handing out candy to the little goblins and princesses.
Before you do anything though, you will need to check with the rules and regulations in your city, county, neighborhood as well as state, as they may have imposed emergency restrictions.
Here are some tips from infectious-disease experts:
Go with kids in your ‘pandemic pod’ – This means that kids should not mingle with other trick-or-treaters they do not know or have not been in close contact with. It’s better to keep children in groups of siblings and friends that they may be in school or have been doing other activities with.
Stay outside – Don’t go to organized trick-or-treating events that are held indoors. Outdoors with plenty of social distancing and mask-wearing is the key to reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Stay in your neighborhood – It’s common in normal times for families to pack their kids in the minivan and drive to the fanciest neighorhoods, which kids perceive as the places to get the best and most treats.
However, it’s safer this year to stay in your own neighborhood where people that you have been around more often live.
Wear a mask – Everyone should be wearing a cloth mask that covers their mouth and nose when trick-or-treating. The costume masks do not provide any protection, however. You may even consider having your kids incorporate their cloth masks into their costumes, like dressing up like an outlaw or a ninja.
Even cloth masks can be uncomfortable after a period of time, so make sure you choose one that is comfortable and with an elastic that doesn’t cut into the back of the ears.
Bring hand sanitizer – Kids or their adult chaperone should carry hand sanitizer that they can apply between houses if they touch anything.
Practice candy safety – It’s not recommended that your kids eat any candy that is unwrapped. If you are concerned that there could be coronavirus germs on candy wrappers, you may want to wash them with soap and water or let them sit out for three or four days before eating the contents.
Buy your own candy – If you are concerned about kids going door to door to get candy, you can still take them out so they can see all the decorations but, instead of going to each door for candy, you can give them one at each home.
Stay behind a storm door – You can still engage with the trick-or-treaters by staying behind a glass storm door if you have one. You can leave candies outside the door and talk to the kids and ask them to take a piece of candy or two.
Keep candy in individual baggies – If you do plan to put a bowl of candy outside, you may be inviting cross-contamination if all the kids are reaching into the same container for their candy.
Consider instead setting up a table with small bags of candies apart from each other, so children can go and grab a bag, step away and let the next kid grab one from the table.
Set up a table outside – If you are not high risk, you can set out a table and sit 6 feet back from it. That way you can keep resupplying the candy on the table after kids take it.
For added effect, decorate the table creatively.
Make a candy chute – A dad in Cincinnati has gone viral after making a video of a trick-or-treat candy chute that he built using a 6-foot cardboard tube, orange spray paint and black duct tape.
He attached the chute to a handrail so kids can stay at the base of the steps, hold up their bag and let the candy drop in their bag – all while social distancing from the candy giver.
If you have an old gift-wrap tube and some markers, you can recreate this chute. Or you can buy some large PVC pipe.
Consider trick-or-treat alternatives
If you don’t feel safe trick-or-treating or your area has determined it isn’t safe, consider getting together with your neighbors to make a neighborhood parade where kids can wave to everyone and enjoy each other’s costumes from a safe distance.
After the parade, everyone can go back home and share candy they bought for their kids.