According to the National Retail Federation, approximately 65% of people in the U.S. plan to participate in Halloween-related activities this year, and households with children are more likely to celebrate Halloween traditions like handing out candy and trick-or-treating.

While the current state of the pandemic may feel like we are in a different place than Fall 2020, Beth Thielen, MD, PhD, an infectious disease physician with University of Minnesota Physicians (M Physicians), says it is still important for parents and community members to take COVID-19 precautions while celebrating Halloween this year. 

“Many Halloween traditions involve activities that we know are a risk for the spread of SARS-CoV-2. 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. “Even though outdoor activities are generally safer, we have seen more infections with the delta variant occuring outdoors so far this year. We would still recommend taking precautions like wearing face covering, limiting the size of gatherings and maintaining physical distance even outdoors.”

Safe Alternatives to Traditional Trick-or-Treating

“Many of us are disappointed that we cannot participate in traditional Halloween activities. The good news is that, even though Halloween will look different again, 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 watch it outdoors if physical distancing can be maintained;
  • Decorate a Halloween-themed cake or cookies; and
  • Walk outdoors at a pumpkin patch or orchard where distance can be maintained.