Halloween is almost here and despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, experts agree that this year will be better than the last. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have switched course from last year’s recommendation of staying home, and given trick-or-treaters the green light to get out and enjoy the spooky night.
“Although Halloween this year surely won’t be like pre-pandemic Halloweens, things have definitely improved,” said Dr. Noah Greenspan, a cardiopulmonary physical therapist and Founder of the Pulmonary Wellness Foundation. “We are in a much, much better place than we were last year at this time.”
Sixty-five percent of people in the United States have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 55.6 percent are fully vaccinated, but experts still recommend taking precautionary measures this Halloween, especially since children under 11 are unable to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“We aren’t as concerned about surface transmission, but instead about crowds and close contact as a means of transmission,” said Dr. Krupa Playforth, ThePediatricianMom. “And because trick-or-treating is an outdoor activity, the risk of transmission is lower. With that said, the risk is not zero.”
So, what do doctors recommend? We asked and rounded up their five best tips for having a fun and safe Halloween in 2021.
If your Halloween plans include trick-or-treating or attending a party, incorporate a mask into your costume, or wear one when you’re around anyone. Experts recommend surrounding yourself with people who are vaccinated, and keeping your group size as small as possible. “While it may be tempting to try to pick a costume that has a mask included, such as a superhero, keep in mind that costume masks are not considered effective when it comes to Covid-19 transmission,” said Dr. Playforth. “You can incorporate gloves into your costume if you want to. I do recommend masks for unvaccinated children, because no matter what, realistically it will be hard to avoid some clustering of children.”
Prep your treats.
If you’re planning on hosting trick-or-treaters at your door, pre-packaged is the way to go. “As opposed to having a big bowl full of candy that kids reach into, pack individual bags of wrapped candy and let each trick-or-treater grab a bag while you keep watch nearby – in full costume, of course,” said Dr. Greenspan. And if your children were able to grab candy of their own, Dr. Playforth recommends avoiding eating or touching any candy until you’ve washed your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
Have a candy hunt inside your home.
If trick or treating isn’t in the cards, try hosting an indoor scavenger hunt with candy hidden all around. It’s like an Easter Egg hunt, but in October. Create a treasure map or have your kids trick-or-treat at various doors throughout your home. Dr. Playforth recommends staying in if your child is high-risk or if you have significant concerns about being around other high-risk individuals.
“I also recommend everyone get their flu vaccine ASAP so they are protected when it comes to Oct 31,” she said.
See what your city is offering.
If you want to leave Halloween planning to someone else, see what is going on in your local community. Your local library, community center and even churches might be hosting Covid-19 friendly events. But experts agree, avoid large inside events and opt for anything outdoors and socially distanced. “Don’t be afraid to be outside, let your kids have fun trick-or-treating in small groups – but for your own safety and the safety of others, avoid large, crowded inside gatherings,” said Dr. Greenspan. “And if you are in close proximity to others, maintain as much distance as possible and wear a mask.”
Have a virtual or indoor backup plan.
Like any year, weather can be unpredictable. It’s best to have a back-up plan in case some unexpected storms roll-in, or someone in your immediate family is unable to trick-or-treat. In that case, try hosting a Zoom costume contest with friends. Pick out your favorite Halloween-themed movie and pop some popcorn. Tell ghost stories under blankets with flashlights. For the older crowd, try a tarot card reading. Or carve pumpkins and listen to a spooky playlist. Your indoor, stay-at-home possibilities are endless.
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