For families trying to balance the fun of Halloween with the risk of COVID-19, Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Department have put out some safety guidelines, noting that door-to-door trick or treating is considered high risk for both children and those who hand out the treats.
For those who decide to venture out, HCPH recommends bringing hand sanitizer and using it each time a child gets candy. Masks, and not the Halloween kind, are a necessity.
“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,” read the guidelines. “Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.”
Trick or treaters should stand at least 6 feet away from the person giving out candy and from other groups that are trick or treating.
For those providing treats, the recommendation for the preparation of goodie bags is to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags. Leaving individually wrapped treats is preferable to opening the door to distribute candy – and treats should be spread out for trick or treaters to safely distance.
“While the one-way alternative is safer than traditional trick or treating, it still comes with a moderate risk of virus transmission,” Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Department said in a news release. “While there isn’t a way to completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission with any activity, we can take simple steps to reduce it.”
Other, less risky options are to decorate the house, apartment or living space, to carve or decorate pumpkins outside with household members or neighbors and friends or to have a socially distant outdoor Halloween movie night. In lieu of haunted houses, the city said some safer alternatives would include haunted forests and virtual costume parties as well as scavenger hunts or other activities with family members.
Shepherd Park Terrace resident Stacy Lindley said this year her family is dressing up but staying in.
“We are baking and having a party at home,” Lindley said. “We have signed up for a macaroons class on Outschool and will rent a kid-appropriate Halloween movie.”
The Timbergrove Manor Neighborhood Association is having a Halloween Decorating Contest on Oct. 29 with prizes for best door, best window, best yard and best overall as well as a Virtual Costume Contest. Guidelines for residents about socially distant trick or treating are also online.
Other streets and neighborhoods have put flyers out with the table treat idea, but Audrey Lokker is taking a more unusual route.
“We are making a candy chute out of 10-foot PVC pipe,” she said. “I will use tongs to put the candy in the chute. It is a nuclear waste theme with glow-in-the-dark spiders. The sign has glow-in-the-dark paint, too.”
To exorcise all the COVID feels, Joanna Brooks is getting virus-shaped piñatas from Albuquerque for her kids to smash from their tree.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties is hosting a socially distant Trunk or Treat at 741 E. 11th St. from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 with a pumpkin patch, pictures, games and trick or treating for all ages. Masks are required, plain or scary.