Coronavirus: What California health officials are recommending for Halloween, trick-or-treating

California health officials on Tuesday stopped short of banning any Halloween activities outright but rather encouraged would-be partygoers and trick-or-treaters to engage in less risky behavior during the upcoming holiday.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of health and human services, said those activities “pose a high risk of spreading COVID and are therefore discouraged,” and presented alternative ways to celebrate Halloween, as well as Dia de los Muertos.

“The whole act of going door to door in groups, ringing doorbells, digging into buckets of delicious candy create a risk of spreading COVID-19,” Ghaly said Tuesday during a virtual briefing. “The fact that positive cases are hard to discover and probably hard to contact trace also pose challenges that we feel are too great.”

Instead, health officials offered up a number of alternatives with one underlying message: the safest way to celebrate is at home or virtually.

For a virtual or distanced Halloween:

Online costume or pumpkin-carving contest
Tour neighborhood Halloween displays by car
Attend a drive-in scary movie

For a Halloween at home:

Create a haunted house or candy hunt
Have a scary movie night
Paint faces and carve pumpkins
Decorate the home and yard
Design face masks to match Halloween costumes

For a socially distanced Dia de los Muertos:

Consider creating altars in a front window or outside
Create a virtual space to honor loved ones
Only visit cemeteries with those from your household

California’s guidelines are similar to those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which separates activities into three tiers of risk. Trick-or-treating, haunted houses, hayrides and costume parties are all deemed high risk. The CDC recommends passing out one-way goodie bags as an alternative to trick-or-treating, or visiting a pumpkin patch or apple orchard as another festive activity.

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Last month, health officials in Los Angeles County received backlash over a ban on trick-or-treating that led them to soften it to a “strong recommendation,” similar to the guidelines being offered by the state. Local officials retain the authority to put in place more restrictive holiday orders.

Ghaly said the state didn’t want explicitly ban certain holiday celebrations but that also families shouldn’t treat Halloween as normal this year.

“We don’t want to turn what is a celebration and time of joy into something that is difficult or contentious,” he said. “But we also recognize the need to provide a clear understanding about the risks and why we recommend strongly that we do Halloween differently than we have in the past.”

For his part, Ghaly said Halloween was “at the top of mind” in his household and that his family would be taking part in some of the socially distanced alternatives. At least two of his children are planning pandemic-related costumes, he said: the NBA bubble and the coronavirus itself.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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