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October 19, 2020

Houston Health Department Encourages Alternatives to Traditional Trick-or-Treating and Halloween Gatherings During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Houston Health Department encourages people to forgo traditional trick-or-treating and Halloween gatherings this year in favor of safer alternatives. Going door-to-door and attending traditional Halloween events are high-risk activities for spreading COVID-19 during the pandemic.

“The City of Houston is not canceling Halloween this year, but we are discouraging people from gathering in large groups. It is important that we keep the COVID-19 numbers moving in the right direction. This requires us to be smarter about how we trick-or-treat,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Families and children can still have a ghoulish good time without jeopardizing their health and safety during the pandemic.”

A safer alternative is one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while maintaining a safe social distance. This can be accomplished by setting up a table or blanket at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard.

“While the one-way alternative is safer than traditional trick-or-treating, it still comes with a moderate risk of virus transmission,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston. “While there isn’t a way to completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission with any activity, we can take simple steps to reduce it.”

Haunted houses and other indoor activities are also high risk for COVID-19 transmission. Safer options for Halloween fun include:

  • Haunted forests for easier social distancing;
  • Halloween scavenger hunts or spooky movie nights with household members;
  • Baking Halloween-themed treats with household members; and
  • Virtual costume parties.

A costume mask is not a substitute for a face cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that cover the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.

People should not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it harder to breathe. A safer alternative is using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

People who may have COVID-19: those with fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, new loss of taste or smell, and diarrhea, and people exposed to someone who tested positive should not answer the door to trick-or-treaters.

Houstonians should continue to mask up, social distance, wash hands and get tested to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People can visit or call 832-393-4220 to find a nearby free testing site.

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