OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With Halloween just around the corner, health officials are releasing additional information on ways to celebrate the holiday safely.
Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say celebrating Halloween virtually or just with members of your own household is encouraged.
However, many families still want to celebrate Halloween by allowing their children to go trick-or-treating.
“The CDC has recommended against it. Halloween, trick-or-treating like it’s been in the past is probably going to be different. Herds of kids at the door requesting treats is probably not very safe, so I think people will have to be clever about how they trick-or-treat and about how they dispense candy, if they choose to do that. Wearing masks is a very important part of that. The good news is that most trick-or-treating is outdoors. Really not recommending haunted houses or anything like that. I haven’t seen a whole lot of advertisements for any haunted houses this year, but those big groups, again, are going to be fodder for spread,” said Dr. David Chansolme, INTEGRIS Medical Director of Infection Prevention,
If you plan to celebrate Halloween, health officials say you should consider the following guidelines:
- Avoid crowded parties.
- Avoid indoor haunted houses.
- Group activities should be limited to fewer than 10 people.
- Trick-or-treating should be done in outdoor environments only.
- Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
- Wash hands before handling treats.
- A costume mask is not an acceptable substitute for a cloth mask.
- Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
- Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.
- Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
- Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.
If you want to hand out Halloween candy, consider preparing individual goodie bags for touch-free, grab-and-go trick-or-treating.
If you have COVID-19 or think you may have been exposed to the virus, you should not participate in any in-person activities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
Doctors with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department says after each holiday during the pandemic, there has been a noticeable spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“We’ve now been through multiple holidays during the COVID pandemic, and after each holiday, there is a verified spike in cases as people are exposed to others outside of their household at parties and other organized events,” said Dr. Patrick McGough, DNP, executive director of OCCHD. “The virus doesn’t stop spreading for a holiday.”
Safer Halloween activities for people to consider include:
- Pumpkin carving or decorating outside with members of your household.
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space.
- Organizing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
- Hosting a virtual Halloween costume contest.
- Halloween movie night with members of your household.
If you plan to host a holiday celebration, you should assess the current COVID-19 alert levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees.
The OCCHD advises against large, indoor Halloween parties. If you plan an outdoor event, make sure there is enough space for everyone to social distance. Also, all attendees should wear masks.
Officials say you should prohibit activities that will generate screaming in close proximity to others.
A full list of Halloween guidance is available on the coronavirus.health.ok.gov dashboard in the Resources and Recommendations section.
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