Halloween Alternatives

How to plan safe Halloween activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NC Guidance for Phase 3 activities recommend that people enjoy alternative Halloween activities, instead of the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, during this pandemic season.

The guidance below, adapted from the CDC, outlines lower and moderate risk activities to undertake. Also noted are higher-risk activities that should be avoided to help keep our communities safe.

Lower-risk activities

  • Arrange a virtual Halloween costume contest for your families and friends
  • Set up a virtual Halloween-decorating contest with friends
  • Have an at-home Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Carve and/or decorate pumpkins with members of your household (or with neighbors and friends if you do it outside and maintain safe 6-foot distances)
  • Create a neighborhood Halloween scavenger hunt where children walk from house to house while admiring Halloween decorations at a distance (children should stay within their household groups)
  • Arrange a scavenger hunt trick-or-treat search for your children in or around your home rather than going house to house

Movies in the Park

Asheville Parks & Recreation is sponsoring two free Halloween-related movie events, one for the whole family and the other for teens and adults. The free movies begin at dusk on a giant outdoor screen in the Parking Lot at A-B Tech. For more details or to register, please visit www.facebook.com/APRCA.

  • Oct. 15: The Addams Family
  • Oct. 29: IT Chapter 2

Moderate-risk activities

These are some moderate-risk activities you might consider.

  • Reverse trick-or-treat, where children dress in their costumes and stay at their house or front yard house and neighbors walk or drive by to drop off candy
  • Have a small-group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced
  • Host or attend a socially distanced costume party outdoors where protective masks are used
  • Schedule an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends

Traditional activities

If you do plan on more traditional trick-and-treat activities for the kids, here are some safer ways to do so:

  • Set out individually wrapped goodie bags for families to grab and go while social distancing (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard). Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Place individual pieces of candy spaced out on a table on the porch, walkway, or lawn, for families/children to take for themselves
  • Gently toss candy to trick or treaters from six feet away
  • Use a “candy chute” or tube to pass along candy from the porch to trick-or-treaters standing six feet away
  • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

Higher-risk activities

Avoid these activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • traditional trick-or-treating where children go door to door and take candy from a shared bucket
  • crowded costume parties held indoors
  • any alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors

Remember, in accordance with NC Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order, you should coordinate with local law enforcement to ensure mass gathering limits (no more than 25 individuals indoors and 50 outdoors) and the 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales and mask requirements are enforced. Local governments may consider additional measures or restrictions in their efforts to limit large gatherings, enforce mask mandates, or otherwise reduce the risk for viral spread and to keep their communities safe.

Important guidelines

Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cookouts.

  • Leave at least six feet of space between themselves and individuals from other households
  • Wear face coverings within 6 feet of another person, especially if coming to the door or standing on the porch
  • Costume masks are not a substitute for a cloth mask, unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face
  • A costume mask over a protective cloth mask can make it hard to breathe; consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching shared objects—or coughing and sneezing
  • Provide participants with hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol), plus tissues and trash receptacles
  • Self-monitor for fever, cough, or shortness of breath; you can become infectious before you become ill, or without becoming ill.

Whatever you plan to do with your children, family, and friends, be safe!


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