ORANGE COUNTY, CA — It's official. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says traditional trick-or-treating this Halloween is considered "high risk." The agency has said "no" to trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating events, hayrides and haunted houses.
So what else can you do?
Late Monday released its guidance for the holiday and the news for Halloween lovers is grim. "Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses," the CDC warned.
The agency suggests low-risk activities done by those in the same household, and mostly at home.
"Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household pose low risk for spread," the agency posted on its website Monday.
Yeah. But that doesn't sound like much fun, does it?
Don't Let Your Boo Turn Into Boo-Hoo!
In a Connecticut Patch story earlier this month about what we knew and didn't know then about Halloween, many of the dozens of comments included a sentiment similar to this one:
"Let the kids have fun. Their school year is in ruins, they have to wear dehumanizing masks all day, and their freedom is being eroded on a daily basis." And this: "Don't you people realize the more miserable they make it the easier it is to lead you by the nose. No job, no money for rent, no social contact, 'come on man' let them eat ... candy."
The CDC says there are options for medium- and low-risk Halloween fun, and it points out that "screaming" —in glee or fright —is not uncommon at Halloween and of particular concern for those without masks, for example.
One-way trick-or-treating, costume parades
A safer — though still with "moderate risk" — way to trick-or-treat is "one-way" trick-or-treating, where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up at the end of a driveway or yard for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance.
It notes that if folks choose that route, when preparing treat bags, people should, "wash hands before and after making the bags."
Another option it says, with "moderate risk," is to have a "small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart." The CDC says people can attend a "costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart."
Importantly, it says, a costume mask is "not a substitute for a cloth mask."
"A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn't leave gaps around the face," the CDC said. "Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask."
Other activities considered to be "moderate risk":
Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised.
Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, the wearing of masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing.
Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart.
If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
The lowest-risk Halloween activities, according to the CDC:
Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them.
Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
Decorating your house, apartment or living space.
Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house and enjoying Halloween decorations at a distance.
Having a virtual Halloween costume contest.
Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with.
Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.
It struck me this year that Halloween in Orange County is definitely changing. One of our favorite annually decorated homes will not be having grand plans this year, after a Halloween Carnival that thrilled neighbors in 2019. Similarly, Lake Forest's famous "Scream in the Dark" haunted house will be shuttered.
There are still things to do. Plans are underway for a drive-through haunted house with their Urban Legends Haunts OC Fairgrounds
How will you be spending Halloween 2020? Are there homes on your block who have already started decorating? Share your thoughts with your Patch Editor in comments,or through email!