Halloween is almost upon us.
On many fronts, this year’s Halloween will be unlike any other in recent memory. Falling on a Saturday, Oct. 31, it comes on the cusp of a historic, divisive election and follows on the heels of a historic, divisive pandemic.
And because of the dangers posed by COVID-19, a minor debate has been stirring regarding trick-or-treating. Specifically, whether people should take part in it.
In a year where almost everything has changed and will continue to change, we think it is OK for those families who wish to partake, both in the handing out and accepting of treats.
The Minnesota Department of Health has labeled trick-or-treating as a high risk activity. While we can agree there is risk, we still think it’s OK for families to engage in the time-honored tradition, with caveats — wearing masks, social distancing and plenty of hand sanitizing. Basically, it’s practicing every safety measure they can think of doing.
“Halloween doesn’t need to end just because we are in a pandemic, but it does need to be different,” said Dr. Jonathan KenKnight, a pediatrician at Essentia Health, in a news release earlier this week.
If you plan to give out treats, Dr. KenKnight suggested sitting outside while wearing a mask and having prepackaged goodie bags to hand out, rather than having kids reach into a bowl for candy. He also said it’s a good idea to thoroughly wipe down your child’s candy after returning home, and then let it sit for a couple days.
As far as other Halloween celebrations, KenKnight said to consider outdoor activities wherein ample social distancing is possible; be sure to wear a mask with your costume; avoid large gatherings such as costume parties and haunted houses; and stay home if you don’t feel well.
If someone is hosting or attending an indoor get-together, KenKnight advised to keep it small (10 people or fewer); wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose; set up seating ahead of time that allows for space between people; minimize sharing items with people not in your household; open windows and/or doors for better airflow; and maintain a list of attendees in case one of them has or contracts COVID-19.
We’d also recommend people respect the decisions of others, whether they choose to offer candy to trick-or-treaters, choose to take their family trick-or-treating in our neighborhoods or decide to sit this year out altogether.
We’re certainly not downplaying the risks of the pandemic but there is no question this nation is at risk of COVID-19 fatigue. If done correctly, we believe trick-or-treating — in small groups, in an outdoor setting and keeping plenty of distance from others — is one small way to return a bit of normalcy to our lives, if only for a little while.