Halloween 2020 will still mean scares, but at a distance

by Caroline Bottger

Warnings of a fall wave of coronavirus infections have been spooking Americans since early summer. The current numbers aren’t inspiring either: according to The New York Times, cases in the United States have increased by 6 percent in the last two weeks.

So what does that mean for Halloween, fall’s season opener?

Like many holidays in 2020, Halloween will see a distinct drawback of in-person festivities. Every U.S. state is currently under some type of active emergency order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, with none planning to lift these orders soon. Secondly, the CDC is advising against trick-or-treating, period. The time-honored favorite tops the list of ‘higher-risk activity,’ compared to staying home or holding a socially-distanced gathering. Instead, lifestyle magazines from Good Housekeeping to Romper have published guides for socially-distant alternatives, from movie nights and pumpkin carving at home to celebrating within your COVID ‘bubble.’ To be extra safe, temperature screening for smaller events is never a bad idea.

Some towns are using the new pandemic rules to establish new, socially distanced traditions, emphasizing outdoor and virtual activities. The Del Ray Business Association in Alexandria, VA added a category for Best Decorated Block to this year’s virtual costume competition. The town of Muhlenberg, PA introduced a Halloween house decoration contest for the first time this year.

Cars have become a focus for Halloween fun this year as well. “Trunk-or-treat” events, where neighbors drive to a common area to provide a short, low-contact trick-or-treating circuit, have been common in rural areas for some years now. The coronavirus pandemic could see a rise in similar “trunk-or-treat” events in suburban and urban areas. For those seeking an even more socially-distanced approach, drive-through experiences such as outdoor plays and haunted pumpkin patches are popping up across the country, alongside the usual drive-in movie spots.

But if you must partake in traditional trick-or-treating, make sure you’re following mask compliance. Avoid painting or marking the masks too, since any fumes can be dangerous when inhaled continuously. The CDC also warns to not rely on costume masks to provide protection from coronavirus transmission. Also, shorten your trick-or-treat journey to a few homes, since being in a large group over people increases transmission risk as well.

If you’re more of a candy distributor, Marketwatch suggests “one-way trick-or-treating,” where kids can pick up wrapped baggies of candy from the front door. If that seems too boring, there is plenty of inspiration to take from the internet. Videos of neighbors handing out candy through long hollow tubes to eagerly waiting hands provide entertainment and keep everyone safe. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.

Caroline Bottger is a freelance writer who writes on issues of technology, privacy, and security. 
 
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