The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put a major damper on forthcoming fall festivities with its newly released guidelines for celebrating Halloween amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses," the guidelines state, adding that Americans will need to practice the October tradition differently this year.
Among the traditional activities considered to be no-no's by the health agency are trick-or-treating, crowded costume parties, haunted houses, and even rural fall festivals. So essentially everything fun that many Americans associate with the holiday.
Here's the full list of "higher risk activities":
- 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 judgment 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
Fortunately, the CDC has not left Americans without ways to celebrate, but made sure to suggest "several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween."
Of course, these suggestions all account for proper sanitation and usually involve people staring awkwardly at each other from at least six feet away.
Among the agency's suggested "lower risk" or "moderate risk" activities are:
- Small group, open-air costume parades where participants can remain six feet apart;
- Outdoor costume parties where protective masks are used and social distancing is required;
- Outdoor movie nights
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
The guidelines also made sure to clarify that costume masks don't count as protective face coverings, for all the clever kids who thought they'd be able to kill two birds with one stone.
"A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask," the guidelines note. "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," the guidelines add.
"Instead," it continues, one should "consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask."