COVID Task Force

COVID TASK FORCE UPDATE: Halloween Health Tips

Covid-19 won’t stop my wife and me from happily putting up our Halloween decorations in the next few days, but it will – and should – discourage other Oct. 31 traditions we’ve enjoyed together for more than 30 years.

We won’t be handing out miniature chocolate bars and other packaged sweets from a big plastic pumpkin to the wee witches, ghosts, fairies, princesses and small Spidermen who usually start knocking on our front door before it’s even dark. We wonder if any will even come this year.

I won’t be attending my friends’ annual Halloween house party for a serve-yourself buffet supper where a crockpot of homemade potato soup, bowls of chips, dips, and sweets cover every inch of their kitchen counter and table. I wonder if they’ll even have it this year.

Covid-19 is hands-down the scariest thing about this Halloween, but we don’t have to cancel this fall holiday either, health experts tell us. We just have to be smart about how we celebrate.

Did you know that Halloween costume masks don’t protect wearers from the virus? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, costume masks are not substitutes for cloth masks unless they are made from two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers mouths and noses and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. A better bet: Get a Halloween-themed cloth mask if you will spend All Hallows’ Eve with people outside your household.

These are some risky things to avoid this Halloween, according to warnings from Prince William and Fairfax counties’ health departments:

  • Don’t do traditional trick-or-treating where children are handed candy as they go door-to-door.
  • Don’t hand out treats from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
  • Don’t attend crowded indoor Halloween parties.
  • Don’t go to indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming.

Instead, stick with low-risk activities, recommends the Virginia Department of Health. Hold a virtual Halloween costume party, carve a pumpkin with members of your household or carve pumpkins outside with your neighbors while socially-distanced. Maybe do a Halloween scavenger hunt, where children are given lists of Halloween-themed decorations to look for as they admire their neighborhood’s spookiest displays from a safe distance.

Montgomery County’s Halloween advisory suggests holding car parades for costume (or decorated vehicle) contests or to allow an organizer to distribute grab-and-go, commercially-packaged goodie bags while participants stay in their vehicles.

All these suggestions build on the same common-sense advice about safe socializing that experts have preached all year. Some familiar ones are large crowds are riskier than small groups of people, indoor activities are riskier than outdoor ones, and long-lasting social activities are riskier than shorter ones.

As always, people with or exposed to Covid-19 should not attend any in-person gatherings, according to the CDC.

That general advice applies not just for Halloween but for all holiday gatherings this fall and winter, according to a tip-filled CDC fact sheet.

This Halloween is a time to recognize we can still enjoy holiday celebrations and stay healthy if we adapt to Covid-19’s risks by strictly following safe practices. We can have our candy and eat it too.

By Doug Carroll

Doug is a member of the board of the Windsor Park Home Owners Association in Fairfax County and is also a WMCCAI board member.

NOTE: Trunk or Treat Networking Event CANCELED

***Please Note: To Follow Current CDC Guidelines, Our Trunk or Treat Networking event has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding as we continue to monitor local health guidelines to keep our members safe!***