Halloween –– like many things –– is going to look very different this year. Because of the ongoing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional events like trick-or-treating, hayrides, haunted houses and large costume parties aren’t safe this year. 

Beth Thielen, MD, PhD, pediatric infectious diseases physician with M Physicians, offers advice on staying safe while celebrating Halloween –– during a pandemic.

“Trick-or-treating often involves face-to-face contact with many people and touching common items, like candy buckets, that can easily become contaminated with viruses,” Dr. Thielen said.

Because the weather on Halloween in Minnesota is often quite brisk, large costume parties and other activities like haunted houses tend to be indoors –– which increases the likelihood of the virus spreading.

“For many of us, Halloween is about scary activities and screaming, which can generate more respiratory droplets that can travel farther and spread infection,” Dr. Thielen said. “And even though outdoors activities are generally safer, we have seen infections occurring when people are clustered close together outdoors in places like concerts, so even events like hayrides may be risky.”

Safe Alternatives to Traditional Trick-or-Treating 

“Many of us are disappointed that we can’t participate in traditional Halloween activities. The good news is that even though Halloween will look different this year, there are still lots of ways for families to have fun and stay healthy,” Dr. Thielen said.

Some of the safer options include:

  • Carve and decorate pumpkins with your household and share them outdoors at a distance with neighbors and friends.
  • Plan an outdoor scavenger hunt looking for Halloween-themed items.
  • Watch a halloween-themed movie remotely via Zoom, or other video sharing platform, or outdoors if physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Decorate a Halloween-themed cake or cookies.
  • Walk outdoors at a pumpkin patch or orchard where distance can be maintained.

For more tips on preventing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during Halloween activities, visit this Q&A.