The Austin Chronicle

How to Spend Halloween as Safely as Possible This Year

Treats, no tricks

October 23, 2020, Features

The traditional Halloween – big parties, haunted houses – have been scared away by the coronavirus this year. The big recommendation from the city of Austin and Centers for Disease Control is to spend Halloween at home, and the CDC has classified trick-or-treating as a medium risk for transmission. Here's some helpful hints to help keep your little tricksters healthy this year.

If you're giving out candy:

– Only give out pre-wrapped bags of treats. Make sure to wash your hands before and after filling the bags, or maybe wear gloves and a mask, just to be sure.

– Think of ways to make handing the candy out contact-free, or what the CDC call one-way trick-or-treating. They recommend lining up individual candy bags at the edge of your drive.

– Maybe innovate a fun way to hand out socially distanced candy, like building a chute.

– Check your neighborhood mailing list, Facebook group, or Nextdoor page, to see if there is a list of homes handing out candy this year.

If you're trick-or-treating:

– Check if your neighborhood has a list or map of houses giving out candy this year.

– Just like any Halloween, make sure you stay on the sidewalk, watch for traffic, and stay safe.

– Only go trick-or-treating with members of your household.

– Don't go to a house unless you know they have candy.

– If there are trick-or-treaters ahead of you, let them leave before you go to the house.

– Use hand sanitizer in between houses.

– The hardest bit: Either wash the wrapped candy, or leave it for 24-48 hours before eating it (parents, maybe have some around the house ahead of the day, because waiting is hard).

And, whoever you are, remember:

– Always wear a mask (and not a costume mask, one that keeps you safe).

– Always socially distance.

– Use hand sanitizer between houses.

– Stay home if you or your child feels sick, or is at high risk of complications from COVID-19.

Looking for some low-risk options instead of trick-or-treating?

The city and CDC have some recommendations for ways to celebrate the spooky season:

For Halloween:

– Carve pumpkins with your household.

– Decorate your yard or home.

– Host a virtual Halloween party and costume contest.

– Watch scary movies with your household, or turn the lights down and tell spooky tales.

– Take a socially distanced walk around your neighborhood to see the Halloween yard displays. Maybe even make it a scavenger hunt, where the kids have to check items they spot off a list.

– Have a household candy hunt or whack a piñata in your own home.

For Día de los Muertos:

– Build an ofrenda, a traditional altar commemorating those you have lost.

– Prepare traditional family recipes and deliver them, contact free, to show your love.

– Play music that your loved ones would have played, as a way to remember them.

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