How will coronavirus change Halloween in Maryland? What to know about haunted houses, trick-or-treating and more.*
Experts are somewhat divided on what risks are worth taking this Halloween, especially with a particularly dangerous flu season looming.
Based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines released last week for fall holidays, traditional celebrations like trick-or-treating are considered high risk, along with indoor attractions like haunted houses and activities that could bring strangers in close proximity with one another, such as hay rides.
However, Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said certain Halloween activities, such as trick-or-treating, likely can be done safely — provided they take place outside and with minimal contact between individuals.
“The transmission of the virus is not something that happens through fleeting contact. It’s 10 to 15 minutes within six feet of each other,” Adalja said before the CDC’s guidelines were released.
As the pandemic lingers and case counts continue to rise, individuals ought to determine what risk level they’re comfortable with, he said, and find ways to enjoy life amid COVID-19.
“Nothing is going to be risk free, and this virus isn’t going anywhere, so I do think it’s important that people start to learn how to implement these common sense recommendations into their daily lives,” Adalja said.
The state health department has said that “Marylanders can participate in outdoor celebrations, but they should do so while adhering to the public health guidance of wearing a face mask, practicing social distance, and avoiding large crowds,” according to department spokesperson Ebony Wilder.
The Howard County health department, meanwhile, has issued guidelines discouraging door-to-door trick-or-treating. If it’s done, individuals should remain in “household groups," candy should be left outside, and trick-or-treaters should sanitize their hands between houses, the guidelines read. The county also issued guidelines stating that indoor Halloween celebrations, including haunted houses, should be avoided.
Meanwhile, communities across the region are grappling with how best to dole out fun-sized Snickers bars and miniature bags of M&Ms to any number of young Frankensteins, little Power Rangers and princesses this Halloween — or whether doing so is just too dangerous.
If families do decide to leave their homes to trick-or-treat, the CDC recommends “participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard).” This activity is considered moderately risky in the CDC guidelines, while traditional trick-or-treating, and trunk-or-treating, are marked as “high risk.”
“You want to minimize multiple little young hands in a bowl,” said Sandra Crouse Quinn, a professor of family sciences in the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.
*Excerpted from an article by Christine Condon for The Baltimore Sun
Here are some inventive ideas we found for keeping the neighborhood kids safe:
Make your yard into a garden of candy for the picking. Make it spooky by attaching the candy to glow sticks stuck into the yard.