Halloween has a lot going for it: Few people travel or see elderly relatives. Face coverings are common already. Most kids gather treats outdoors, in the company of family members or close friends, and enjoy them at home.
Before you decide whether or how to trick-or-treat, you should evaluate local data about transmission and decide if you’re comfortable doing any nonessential activities. In much of the country, staying home is still the safest choice.
If you decide to trick-or-treat, plan with your neighbors to modify the activity for more safety. People should opt in with a sign or balloon on their home to divert traffic away from nonparticipants’ homes. Everyone who wants to participate should wear a mask. Kids should go out with family members and friends they already see during quarantine.
There are ways to make the candy hand-off itself safer, even though a momentary, well-ventilated, masked interaction is not a high risk for transmission. Leaving a bowl of candy outside is popular even in non-pandemic years. If you want to reduce contact but still see kids in costumes, use your outdoor space, if you have it—put the candy bowl (or, even better, individually packaged baggies of a few pieces of candy each) in the yard or driveway and set up a lawn chair.
“Trunk-or-treating,” in which people gather in a parking lot so that small children can collect candy without traipsing through the streets, is similarly modifiable for distance.
If you live in an apartment building with indoor hallways, the residents could split into shifts to reduce traffic—younger kids first, then older kids—but those scenarios are still riskier than the outdoors.
The candy itself is less of a worry. Infection from touching contaminated surfaces is much less common than infection from breathing in droplets in the air, but go home and wash your hands before you start eating.
For extra caution with newly acquired candy, open it onto a napkin or plate, throw away the wrappers, and wash your hands again before touching it—the same principle you’d use when bringing home groceries or takeout. Even though trick-or-treating isn’t a weekly activity, the practical concerns are the same as the ones you’ve managed during those activities for more than seven months.
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