Halloween and COVID-19: Tips for a Safe and Healthy Halloween
These tips for a healthy Halloween can help you protect your family from COVID-19. Hear from Cone Health Infection Prevention Medical Director Cynthia Snider, MD, in this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.
Is it safe to go trick-or-treating during the COVID-19 pandemic?
"That is a great question, especially in a community where our rates are getting so much higher than they were a few weeks ago. I think if you can find alternatives not to go out trick-or-treating, I think that is the best way to avoid any risk. But I know many children and folks who really love Halloween. So if you do go, definitely make sure you're wearing a mask the whole time and that also the group that you go with is small. And even though they may be your friends, if they're not your household members, they definitely should still be wearing a mask.
"And we recommend alternative ways of celebrating - could you do like any type of virtual Halloween party with kids? Could you have a few friends over and do an outdoor Halloween pumpkin carving type of contest? Things that keep folks from being indoors and without mask - that tends to be the highest risk."
Can kids go trick-or-treating with their friends, or should they only be traveling in a pack of people that they live with?
"So again, it's about those risks that you're willing to take. I would say that it's best just to go trick-or-treating with your own household, and then just limit the size of the group of kids to less than eight. And the key thing is making sure that they wear masks the whole time. And we're talking about like the respiratory mask - you know, the droplet mask, not their Halloween mask. And especially if you're going to be riding in a car to go to a certain place. Again, you don't want to be in a place where it's in a very tight enclosed area.”
"So it's important to wear the mask all the time. And especially when you're going from house to house, I would be very cognizant of which homes you're going to. You want to go to a home that you know that people are wearing masks at, and then also try to avoid getting into a bigger group with other kids that you may not know."
What should I do if I want to give out candy to trick-or-treaters?
"I'm hoping when folks are deciding to distribute candy, consider creating little treat bags, and then distribute them already placed out on a table that's already dispersed a few feet apart. And then also, I think it makes sense to make sure that you're doing proper hand hygiene and trying to avoid people having to touch numerous objects like your doorknob, or the railway, or anything like that."
Can a Halloween mask that comes with a costume protect me from COVID-19? Should I wear my regular COVID-19 face mask over my costume mask?
"I would say that the Halloween masks are always made for just decorative purposes, whereas respiratory masks that you see commonly in health care or even your fabric mask - that is meant to be a little bit tighter around your face. So I would try to choose a costume that you can use your own fabric mask, and then avoid doubling up [costume masks and respiratory masks], but the fabric mask is the most recommended."
Should candy wrappers be wiped down before they're opened and eaten?
"I think I would say the for folks who've had COVID disease within the last few weeks, I would recommend that they do not distribute any candy, because we want to make sure that they're not contaminating any kind of candy that they're disbursing to folks.
"In terms of kids that have received candy, one thought is that you can exchange it - parents can exchange some of that candy with candy that you've purchased. I don't think it makes sense to spray Lysol on any candy. And [keep in mind] just things that we do normally - you don't want to eat any candy that's already got the packaging slightly open. You want to have all that be in place, and it should be safe to eat."
In addition to COVID-19 safety precautions, what else should I keep in mind for a safe and healthy Halloween?
"Again, I would say if any of the packaging does not look intact, you should get rid of that candy. There's always choking risks with any candy that's round - certain kids may be quite young and probably shouldn't have that type of candy as it is a choking risk. And again, it's just like just proper safety, ensuring that when you're going out that you have enough visibility [in your costume]."