Should you expect a lot of trick-or-treaters this year?

In years past, running from house to house and sharing candy all night long sounded like the perfect way to spend Halloween. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still well underway, these practices may feel unsanitary. People fear this spooky holiday will spread the virus, especially to trick or treaters who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated.

So, will there be many kids out trick or treating this year? Should parents allow them out in the streets? What about the adults that enjoy handing out candy — are they at risk of a COVID-19 infection?

While some areas of the U.S. opened bars and amusement parks to customers, others are scaling back their reopening plans and keeping mask mandates in place. With that said, whether or not there will be hoards of costumed kids in your neighborhood celebrating the holiday will depend largely on your location.

Regardless of how many times your doorbell rings this All Hallows Eve, it’s best to follow a few simple safety guidelines to protect yourself and the younger ones. Here are some best practices to keep in mind so Halloween 2021 remains as fun, and safe, as possible.

Asian kid going trick-or-treating

Halloween safety practices for parents and kids during COVID-19

A safer celebration necessitates all the same precautions you followed throughout the pandemic, including wearing face masks, regularly washing your hands, and social distancing. This remains true even if you’ve been vaccinated. Doing what you can to reduce the risk of spreading the virus is incredibly important, particularly as new and more contagious variants continue to emerge.

Coronavirus is spread more easily through the air and is usually transmitted through aerosols and water droplets. Thus, it’s easy to become infected if you’re standing near an infected person who coughs or sneezes, and the risk of transmission is higher indoors because there’s a limited amount of space.

That being said, outdoor activities have a lower risk of transmission, so trick-or-treating can be a generally safe practice. However, it’s still best to limit close interactions with others. Instead of traveling door to door, encourage your neighbors to leave out a bucket of candy or sit with it at the end of the driveway. This way, people have more than enough space to grab their candy without coming too close.

In general, stay in small groups and keep a wide berth between yourself and other trick or treaters. Again, many children are not old enough to be vaccinated, so social distancing is crucial to their health and safety.

Best Halloween safety practices for adults

If you like to spend this holiday at adult venues and parties, consider passing on those gatherings this year. While everyone is itching to get back to a sense of normalcy, watching a horror movie with family or a few friends may be the wiser choice. Crowded indoor bars, clubs, and house parties are breeding grounds for COVID, so reduce your risk and avoid these potential superspreader events.

For those at home handing out candy, wash your hands often and keep as much distance between yourself and the trick or treaters as possible. We also recommend keeping hand sanitizer by the door so both you and your guests can stay clean between visits. To prevent the spread of germs more generally, opt for single-serve bangs of candy so kids don’t stick their hands in a shared bowl.

As always, wear a mask to protect yourself and those around you, even if you’re already wearing a Halloween mask. Odds are, this accessory isn’t enough to prevent you from breathing in infected droplets.

Two jack-o-lanterns side by side

Enjoy a spooky Halloween

Trick-or-treating this year can be just as safe as years prior, as long as adults and kids alike stay vigilant about masking, social distancing, and other sanitary practices. If you’re unsure about what activities are safe in your region, consult the local health authorities or the Center for Disease Control website.

While vaccines have allowed for the reopening of many activities and celebrations that were not possible last year, it’s not yet time to say the pandemic is in the rearview. If you’re concerned about your health, or that of your family, it’s okay to stay home. You can be creative with the kids and organize a treasure hunt around the house, or have them trick or treat between the bedrooms. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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