WILLMAR, Minn. — It could be tricky going trick-or-treating this year because of COVID-19. But whether you’re going door to door or keeping activities close to home, there are ways to keep Halloween fun and safe this year.
The key for the kiddos is to avoid large groups, reduce contact with individuals, keep a six-foot distance from people not in your household, don’t reach into a bowl to grab candy, wash hands, use hand sanitizer and wear a mask – which may mean wearing a cloth mask instead of a costume mask.
And try not to scream, which can increase chances of spreading the virus in respiratory droplets.
People who are handing out treats this year should consider ways to reduce contact, like putting treats in individual bags that can be distributed to trick-or-treaters with limited face-to-face contact.
“They need to do it safely,” said Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Director Jennie Lippert of trick-or-treat activities. “They should keep any encounter very brief at the door.”
Some people are opting to put bagged treats on a table at the end of a sidewalk for kids to take and will watch the parade of costumed kids go by from the window. Others are inventing creative candy delivery systems, like sending treats through long PVC pipes.
Having kids reach into a common bucket of candy is discouraged.
While having cute kids come to the door on Halloween is a fun experience, Lippert said this may be the year for older residents to consider shutting off the lights to their house and bypassing the trick-or-treat experience in order to stay safe.
Lippert recommends following recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has specific guidelines for how to celebrate Halloween safely.
Some families are opting to not go door to door this year and are instead finding other creative ways to celebrate.
Scavenger hunts, a backyard bonfire, scary movies and treats in the living room, and upping the outdoor Halloween decorations can help create a festive atmosphere.
There are also community events still taking place that can be an outlet for families, like the annual trunk-or-treat event at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Willmar.
The church had considered canceling this year because of COVID but instead came up with ways to make it safe while retaining the fun.
Cassie Drenkow, director of Christian education, said families are grieving the loss of their normal lives because of COVID and “we didn’t want this to be one more thing that would be taken away. We wanted to provide a little fun.”
Families will stay in their vehicles and drive by the decorated “trunks” to get treats that Drenkow said will be handed out in creative – and safe – ways.
She said people are “having fun and making adjustments” to their trunk displays in response to COVID. Kids are encouraged to dress up in their costumes and consider decorating their own vehicles for Halloween.
“Everything this year has been a challenge to rethink and rework and find creative ways to still connect with people,” said Drenkow.
The CDC says outdoor Halloween events are better than indoor events, but still advises keeping a six-foot distance and use of hand sanitizer.