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HOW TO: Celebrate Halloween safely during a pandemic

Posted at 12:00 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 13:00:55-04

TULSA, Okla. — How do you celebrate Halloween during a pandemic?

It’s a question parents across the nation are asking and the Tulsa Health Department is hoping to give parents some ideas for a safe and fun holiday.

“We can’t always be the ‘no’ police,” THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said. “Halloween is an example of something that can still be fun for kids and families, as long as people follow the same general recommendations of wearing masks, watching your distancing, washing your hands and avoiding crowds and indoor events."

The Centers for Disease Control issued guidelines for Halloween across the United States, though the level of safety for any activity depends on local conditions: track local conditions for Tulsa County here.

So, what do local health officials recommend?

Safe: Celebrate at home

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

Less Safe: Careful Celebration outside the home

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
    • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • 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.
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people can maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family & friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

Unsafe: Beware of

  • 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 your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

Officials say to remember to follow these precautions to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19:

  • Social distance and limit contact
  • Wear masks
  • Wash hands
  • Limit contact with shared surfaces, items

READ MORE advice to stay safe on the Tulsa Health Department website.

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