Avoiding a Covid scare on Halloween

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Avoiding a Covid scare on Halloween

Coronavirus has hit kids hard, taking away school, socializing with friends and many activities. In most cities and states*, it doesn't have to derail Halloween too, as long as precautions are put in place.

The holiday, after all, is known for costumes – many of which include masks. But Halloween masks alone aren't enough. Public-health officials are advising that trick-or-treaters should wear a proper mask underneath any that are part of a costume. If two masks make it hard to breathe, lose the decorative one, they advise.

The recommendations don't just apply to those looking for candy. People handing out treats should mask up too. They also need to maintain at least six feet of distance. There are creative ways to do it. A story from my colleague Linda Poon includes a link to a six-foot "candy slide" using a PVC pipe. But there are easier ways. Neighbors who want to participate could leave individually-wrapped candy on a table in the hallway, at the end of a driveway or on the sidewalk, and watch from a distance. You won't have the awkward conversations, but you can still see how cute the kids are. And maybe everyone will just take one piece of candy.

Alas, some things remain off the table. The Illinois Department of Public Health said haunted houses are out for 2020, amid concerns that attendees – packed into houses and likely screaming in fear – could lead to a super-spreader event. Haunted forests and walks, however, would be fine. Hopefully it's not snowing in Illinois on Halloween, as it often is in Minnesota, where I live.

Halloween is on a Saturday this year, making it easier to have the annual costume party on the actual day of the holiday. Caution must be taken, however. Many states and cities still have restrictions on how many people can gather indoors. Everyone should be wearing masks if they can't stay more than six feet apart, which could limit the consumption of food and drinks. This year, perhaps the focus should be on music and dancing.

Make sure to take advantage of the activities that lead up to the holiday, including hayrides, pumpkin patches and apple picking. Those things take place outdoors, where risks are lower. With winter right around the corner, embrace all the activities that you can.

And above all, be careful. You don't want the trick to be on you.—Michelle Fay Cortez

*Note: some cities and neighborhoods, like Springfield, Massachusetts, have banned trick-or-treating. Los Angeles is recommending against it, after getting pushback for trying to cancel the event. Make sure to check the rules in your area.

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