Halloween During COVID – FAQ

One of the most exciting times of year for all children, and especially those in northern New Jersey, is Halloween. But this year, parents have a lot of questions about how to celebrate Halloween safely due to COVID-19. Gruenwald and Comandatore is committed to keeping our patient family safe and healthy, and we’ve provided the following Trick-Or-Treating and Coronavirus FAQ to help you navigate this confusing time.

But before we get into the questions, please note: Do not participate in Halloween activities if you or a household member have a known exposure to COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not yet met the criteria for discontinuing isolation or were told to quarantine. If you feel sick this year, please stay behind closed doors.

Do I Need To Wear A Mask?

Yes, absolutely yes. The New Jersey Department of Health wants everyone to wear a face covering that covers both your nose and mouth. Also, sorry folks: the mask from your costume doesn’t count. Costume masks don’t provide enough protection from coronavirus.

Should I Remain Outdoors?

If possible, yes. The biggest threat for spreading coronavirus is indoors, so we, and the NJ Department of health, recommend that you hold your Halloween activities outside. The limit on outdoor gatherings is 500 people, and it’s important to practice proper social distancing.

What If My Party Is Inside?

If you have halloween activities inside, you must adhere to the government-mandated limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings. This means a maximum of 25 people, or 25% of the max capacity of the room–whichever number is lower. This means a room that fits 100 or 1,000 people, the maximum number of people allowed inside is 25.

Also, no bobbing for apples or anything else that people are right up next to each other. Make sure people wear face coverings and remain six feet apart. It is crucial we all practice social distancing, no matter what.

Can I Go Trick-or-Treating?

No pun intended, this is where things get “tricky.” If you and your family plan to trick-or-treat this year, we recommend you try to limit your group to only current household members. Also, try to stay local and, if possible, limit the number of houses you hit up for candy this year.

What About Trick-Or-Treaters Coming To My Home?

If you’re going to put out candy this year, we strongly recommend that you arrange single pieces of individually-packaged candy in such a way that kids can grab them easily without touching other pieces. This is much better than putting it all in a communal bowl that tons of little hands reach into over the course of the night.

Another option is putting out a treat bowl on the porch, or on a table, that kids can access while still being able to socially distance. If you do want to hand out candy — and we know, it’s fun to see everyone’s costumes — then we suggest that you try to limit your interactions and contact with trick-or-treaters as much as possible. Also, you must cover your face — mouth and nose — when answering the door, and wash your hands regularly throughout the night.

Finally, you might want to consider developing a system with your neighbors if anyone doesn’t want to participate this year. For example, you can have designate if your porch lights are on or off whether kids should visit your house. It’s all designed to help facilitate good social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID.

Got Anything For “Trunk Or Treating?”

We sure do. If the kids are going car-to-car instead of house-to-house (aka “trunk-or-treating”), we recommend that you keep everyone in a long line, rather than in a circle — this way there is enough space for distancing and less crowding. Everyone should wear a face covering, and you should try to limit the number of cars participating. No matter what, make sure there is enough space to minimize crowding, and follow the outdoor limitations currently in effect.

You can also assign specific times for kids to come, so people are there in shifts, rather than crowding all at once.

What About Other Fun Halloween Activities, Like A Haunted House, or a Hayride?

Glad you asked! We recommend you avoid indoor haunted houses because people tend to congregate in close quarters, and when they get scared they scream. We know this is fun, but this is not the year for it, unfortunately. If you are hosting a haunted house, please ensure people are able to, and do, maintain proper social distancing by staggering start times and limiting occupancy. Don’t let people bunch up.

If you want to do a hayride or a corn maze, make sure the number of people are limited, and try to stay within the same party. Corn mazes should only go in one direction, so people are passing each other back and forth, and, similarly, there should be a limited number of people in at once. Finally, any items or materials that people share should be cleaned and sterilized after each use.

Any Suggestions For What We Should Do This Year?

Halloween in Northern New Jersey is always such a fun time of year, and Gruenwald and Comandatore understands that coronavirus is putting a damper on the excitement for the children. As a pediatric office with your family’s health in mind, however, we want everyone to remain as safe as possible. So we suggest you try to do socially-distant Halloween activities such as virtual or online costume parties, Halloween movie nights with family, and driving through different neighborhoods with fun Halloween displays. Remember, we’re all in this together, and we will get through it.

Where Can I Find More Information?

For more information and the source of this article, please check out Department of Health Halloween Celebration Guidance.

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