Hallowe'en Safety in the Time of COVID-19

Edited by Admin
Halloween Safety in the Time of COVID-19

Halloween Safety in the Time of COVID-19

Halloween’s origins harken back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated by the Celts more than two thousand years ago. These ancient people celebrated their new year on November 1, a day that signified the end of harvest and the beginning of cold, dark winter. On October 31, the night before the new year, Celts came to believe that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became porous, and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. Over the centuries, Samhain evolved into our own Halloween, a day of costumes, treats, jack-o-lanterns, mischief, and fun. In ordinary times, the scary aspects of Halloween are provided by costumes, decorations, and spooky stories. But this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has added some real-life horror to the idea of celebrating one of our favourite holidays. Can we experience Halloween safely during a pandemic? What do we need to do to make the holiday fun for children, while ensuring that they and their families will not be exposed to the virus?


Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control is currently urging people to forego traditional trick-or-treating, where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door. Other types of activities have also been classified as “high-risk” for spreading the virus, including indoor costume parties, “haunted house” type activities, hayrides with people outside your household, and travelling to other communities for fall festivals. This guarantees that 2020 will be an unusual Halloween. But does it necessarily need to be disappointing for children? The CDC


Activities for Celebrating Halloween

Of course, some traditional Halloween activities are low-risk. These include:

  • Dressing in costumes at home. You could add to the fun by having a virtual Halloween costume parade or contest.
  • Carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns indoors with members of your household and displaying them in windows or on porches.
  • Decorating your living space with garlands, skeletons, ghosts, and other Halloween-themed décor.
  • Having a Halloween movie night with members of your household. (You can coordinate your viewing with friends and connect via social media or Zoom during or after the viewing.)
  • Visiting a “drive-through” pumpkin carving festival, where you view jack-o-lanterns carved by artists from the safety of your vehicle, such as “Pumpkins After Dark” in Milton.


    Other traditional activities carry a moderate risk, including:

  • Holding a small costume parade outdoors, with participants practicing physical distancing. The CDC does recommend that people forego wearing Halloween masks in favour of fabric or disposable masks.
  • Carving pumpkins outdoors with neighbours and friends who maintain a safe distance from one another.

  • Visiting pumpkin patches where the use of hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples is required; wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain physical distancing.

  • Having an outdoor movie night with friends, where physical distancing is practiced, screaming is prohibited, and there are no shared snacks.


The CDC also has some ideas for non-traditional celebrations to mark Halloween. These include:

  • Creating a spooky scavenger hunt, where children are supplied with a list of Halloween-themed items to look for as they walk outdoors in the neighbourhood, staying physically distanced from other people and wearing face masks.
  • Hiding Halloween treats around your house and/or yard and holding an Easter-egg-hunt style Halloween Hunt.


Following COVID-19 Protocols


This Halloween, and every other day, practice behaviours that reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus. These include:

  • Limit non-essential trips outside your home.
  • When you are outside your home, stay at least six feet away from others.
  • When you are in an indoor space such as a grocery store or on public transit, wear a face covering or disposable mask to protect others. It should cover both mouth and nose, and should fit well. If you remove your mask, do not let it dangle below your chin. Place your mask in a ziplock bag or other clean pouch when not in use. If you are ready to discard your mask, please remove the earloops to protect wildlife and dispose of the materials safely.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after touching surfaces that may be contaminated. If soap and water are unavailable, use 70%-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but be sure to wash thoroughly once you are able to. Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid people who are ill.
  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Observe all of the regulations in place for your area, which could include limits on both indoor and outdoor gatherings, and recommendations regarding social circles.
  • Do not abuse alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors.
  • Do not travel unnecessarily.
  • Download the COVID Alert app to help track contacts.


2020 has been a difficult year, but Halloween can still provide some fun for us, if we celebrate safely.