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State issues guidelines for Halloween, fall events

Door-to-door trick-or-treating is discouraged, partly because many hands are going into the same candy bowl.
The state has issued guidelines for Halloween that say traditional trick-or-treating is discouraged.
The state has issued guidelines for Halloween that say traditional trick-or-treating is discouraged.

The Delaware Division of Public Health on Friday night released guidelines for Halloween and fall events which break activities down into low, moderate and high risk for being exposed to COVID-19.

Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is discouraged, partly because many hands are going into the same candy bowl, but the state offers some suggestions for avoiding that.

“We know this is typically a fun time of year for communities and families, and we absolutely want that fun to continue,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of Public Health. “But it is more important than ever that we do so safely and in a way that does not further increase the risk of virus transmission for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors.”

Halloween may look differently this year, she said, but it can be a happy and healthy one.

Delawareans can reduce the risk of being infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 or spreading the virus by wearing a mask, social distancing, washing their hands and avoiding large groups, the state said.

Activities that can be done at home with members of your household will pose less risk than traditional trick-or-treating, they said.

Low-risk activities include:

  • Pumpkin carving and decorating your home.
  • Hosting a virtual costume contest, Halloween get-together or drive-by decoration viewing with friends and neighbors.
  • Having a Halloween movie marathon.
  • Having a scavenger hunt (think Easter Egg hunt) in and around your home rather than trick-or-treating house to house.

If you choose to take part in some traditional Halloween activities, make sure to modify the activities and take precautions to lower risk, such as:

  • Wear cloth face coverings at all times. (Most Halloween masks are NOT protective enough to be considered face coverings.) 
  • Provide treats without direct contact. For example, you could place individual treat portions on your porch and interact with treaters from at least 6 feet away with everyone wearing a face covering or through a window. Make sure to sanitize your hands between treat handling.
  • Host open-air, socially distant gatherings. Don’t bob for apples.
  • Find a farm where you can pick-your-own pumpkins or apples. Be sure to frequently sanitize, wear a face covering, and maintain 6-feet social distancing from individuals who don’t reside in your own household. If you visit a farm, store or stand, make sure it is one that is requiring everyone kindergarten age and up to wear face coverings and is taking other steps to keep people socially distanced and safe.
  • Attend trunk-or-treat events with proper social distancing and face covering requirements in place along with other precautions. Larger events (more than 250 people) must have a DPH-approved plan (plans may be submitted to HSPContact@delaware.gov).

Delawareans should avoid high-risk activities, where face coverings and other requirements are not enforced.

In addition, all indoor activities with people outside of your household should be avoided, including:

  • Any indoor parties, such as costume parties.
  • Indoor haunted houses unless they have proper precautions in place. Larger attractions (more than 250 people) must have a DPH-approved plan.

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