At first blush, Halloween during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic might feel a lot like Halloween did before the pandemic.
Appearances can be deceiving, however, and as long as COVID-19 remains a public health risk, planning for this child-friendly holiday should include measures to keep children safe from exposure to the virus.
Both Dr. Anthony Fauci and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky have recently stated that trick-or-treating outside in small groups should be safe for young children.
While the CDC has not published specific guidelines for the holiday, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for staying safe from COVID-19—and from more traditional trick-or-treating risks like visibility.
Read on for Halloween safety and fun.
Enjoy the great outdoors.
The coronavirus is less likely to spread outside than inside, so dress in layers and enjoy trick-or-treating the old-fashioned way: outside in small groups.
You can further reduce your risk by keeping a safe distance from others outside your household, like groups of kids clustered at neighbors’ front doors.
And if you’re the neighbor giving out treats, Halloween is a perfect night to light the outdoor fire pit and sit outside to greet trick-or-treaters. Don’t forget non-edible treats for children with special needs and food allergies!
Other outdoor activities may include corn mazes, pumpkin patches and apple orchards. These are preferable to crowded, indoor haunted houses that expose people to many others in areas with unknown airflow and ventilation.
Tread with caution indoors.
If your children do attend an indoor event, be sure everyone wears face masks and observes safe physical distancing.
“Universal masking indoors continues to be important,” says the AAP, “since children under 12 years old are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.”
Wash hands before eating any treats.
Keep scary costumes safe.
Add reflective tape to your kids’ costumes so they’re more visible to traffic, and remind them to be careful around cars, as drivers may not see them.
To protect against COVID-19, make face masks part of their costume. The AAP offers a few cautions:
- Don’t paint or otherwise change protective face masks.
- Don’t expect protection against COVID-19 from a costume mask.
- Don’t wear a costume mask over a COVID-protective face mask.
Make sure the length of their costumes and accessories isn’t long enough to be a tripping hazard.
Have fun at home.
If safe trick-or-treating isn’t available where you are, make your own fun at home! Some ideas include decorating pumpkins, making Halloween-themed treats and dressing up in costume for family movie night.
Take advantage of the best protection of all.
Every adult who gets vaccinated against COVID-19 decreases the risk of infection among the children around them.
If you are not yet fully vaccinated, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or CarilionClinic.org/covid-19-vaccine to find a free, convenient appointment or walk-in site near you.
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