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Make Halloween full of treats, not tricks

As the Halloween season prepares for spookily good fun, the CDC has offered considerations to help protect individuals and their families, friends and communities from COVID- 19. These considerations are meant to supplement – not replace – any state, local, territorial or tribal, health and safety laws, rules and regulations, with which holiday gatherings must comply.

Halloween is typically a time when going from house to house is welcomed when Trick-or-Treating, as well as holding costume parties and pumpkin carving contests. Instead, the CDC recommends alternative activities if people are concerned over exposure.

Included in the activities, is having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade, where people are distanced more than six feet apart; attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than six feet apart; and visiting an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest, where appropriate mask use is enforced and people can remain more than six feet apart.

Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards can also be a good choice, 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 spaced out, is also CDC approved.

Higher risk activities are not recommended and include the following:

• 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 the household.

• Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in the community, living in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

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.

When planning to host a holiday celebration, people should assess current COVID-19 levels in their community, to determine whether to postpone, cancel or limit the number of attendees.

Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends, should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their community, and in the community where they plan to celebrate, when considering whether to host or attend a holiday celebration.

Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors. Gatherings that last longer also pose more risk than shorter gatherings.

Obviously, gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. The CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings.

There is also a greater risk if attendees do not adhere to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing and other prevention behaviors.

People who should not attend in-person holiday celebrations, are those with, or exposed to, COVID-19; has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others; has symptoms of COVID- 19; is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results; may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID- 19.