Yes, trick-or-treating can be done safely this year, even during COVID. Here’s how.

·2 min read

After a 2020 Halloween spent in costume trick-or-treating between bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms, we’re all looking forward to grabbing king-sized candy bars from our neighbors this year.

But we’re still fighting COVID-19, so how can we make sure kids are trick-or-treating safely?

Dr. Emily Sickbert-Bennett, the director of UNC Medical Center Infection Prevention, tells The News & Observer that she will be trick-or-treating in a small group with her family this year.

We spoke with her to learn what to do — and what to avoid — this Halloween.

What are the best safety tips for avoiding COVID on Halloween?

Vaccination is key: “Avoiding shared candy bowls is a less important infection prevention strategy than vaccination, which is most important for those eligible,” Sickbert-Bennett said.

Masking is next most important for those eligible for vaccinations, Sickbert-Bennet said, and should be practiced, too. Thankfully, masks go well with lots of costumes, so all trick-or-treaters (and those accompanying them) should sport them as much as they can.

Physical distancing from others is third most important — and very important if you are not masked.

What are the best and worst candies to give and receive during a pandemic Halloween?

Do: Choose commercially prepared, individually wrapped candies, Sickbert-Bennett said. This is the safest way to enjoy Halloween treats in a pandemic.

Don’t: Don’t buy a jumbo bag of M&M’s and Ziploc them yourself. And don’t give out homemade caramel apples to the trick-or-treaters on your block this year. Stick to the individually wrapped candy you can get from the store.

Should we be worried about the spread of germs through Halloween candy?

Germs don’t survive well on surfaces: “Disinfecting the outside surfaces of candy is not necessary before eating, as most germs don’t survive very well on surfaces and surface transmission has not been shown to be a primary mode of spread for COVID,” Sickbert-Bennett said

“The candy should be individually packaged and the candy should be directly handled with clean hands.”

Wash your hands before eating any of your candy: This is important to prevent spread of many types of infectious diseases, Sickbert-Bennett said. Everyone should avoid directly handling food with unwashed, unsanitized hands.

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