A pandemic Halloween is different, but it can still be fun

Kids and many adults look forward to Halloween all year. Spooky decorations, mounds of free treats, dance parties and dressing up in a terrifying or hilarious costume—what’s not to love? Halloween will definitely be different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in ways that keep everyone safe. With a little creativity, you can make this a Halloween to remember for many years to come.

Can my child still trick or treat?

Halloween safety is always important. The definition of what’s safe has just expanded this year. As with almost every activity during the pandemic, your decision on what is safe or not comes down to the level of risk involved. Anything that requires you to be in close proximity to people outside your household, especially for long periods of time, caries an increased risk of getting sick.

Children can be hard to control—especially with the promise of free candy—so traditional trick-or-treating may not be a good idea this year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that if trick-or-treating is allowed in your community, you should avoid large groups or clustering around doorways. If you plan on going door-to-door, remember to wear a barrier mask (in addition to your costume mask) at all times and bring plenty of sanitizer for stops between houses.

If you plan to give out candy to neighborhood kids, the AAP recommends the following:

  • Sit outdoors to greet trick-or-treaters
  • Wear a mask that comfortably, but tightly covers your mouth and nose at all times (your Halloween mask doesn’t count)
  • Prepare individual goodie bags to set out at least six feet away from you to reduce risk
  • If preparing treat bags, wear a mask and wash your hands before filling them

How can we celebrate Halloween safely?

Halloween is about more than free candy and visiting your neighbors. There are plenty of traditions that are perfectly safe or easy to transition to a pandemic-friendly celebration. The Centers for Disease Control offer a list of low-to-moderate risk activities for this year:

  • Carve or paint pumpkins with your family (young children should paint—leave the carving to the parents).
  • Decorate your house inside and out to get everyone in the spooky spirit.
  • Host a virtual costume party to show off your outfit safely to your friends.
  • Have a Halloween movie night at home.
  • The San Antonio Zoo has converted their annual Zoo Boo! event to a drive-thru this year, keeping families and Zoo staff at a safe distance from one another.
  • Rooftop Cinema Club is hosting Halloween movies all month in the parking lot at Six Flags Fiesta Texas so you can be terrified from the comfort of your car.
  • Six Flag is hosting Hallowfest this year with changes aimed at keeping visitors safe, including requiring reservations and appropriate face coverings.
  • Outdoor pumpkin patches allow you to keep your distance from others while celebrating the season.

Whatever your plans for this Halloween season, make sure to adhere to the guidance we have learned to live by during the pandemic:

  • Halloween masks are not designed to provide protection from the coronavirus, so make sure to also wear an appropriate face covering.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Stay at least six feet from others as much as possible.
  • Avoid indoor gatherings and large crowds.

By observing these rules, you and your family can be scared out of your wits by the atmosphere of the season—not by the risk of getting sick.