Traditionally, Halloween is celebrated by dressing up in extravagant costumes and filling bags with candy from neighboring houses. However, with COVID-19 cases rising, how can trick-or-treating, along with other Halloween festivities, carry on? While it has definitely been an adjustment, communities have come together to adapt to the new normal and create a fun Halloween that is still COVID-safe.
Nearly two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, families, and communities have become accustomed to adopting unconventional ways of keeping holiday traditions alive. From families gathered together on Zoom meetings rather than the table to drive-by birthday parades, socially distanced celebrations provide a way to keep loved ones safe while still enjoying these special days. Similar adaptations have been made to Halloween festivities to allow them to continue during the pandemic.
With increased vaccination rates, COVID cases have decreased since Halloween of 2020. That being said, October still saw a large number of cases, averaging about 100-200 new diagnoses per day. Because of this, the CDC released a report in mid-October that included ways to celebrate the holidays safely. It was recommended to hold events outdoors with masks being worn regardless of vaccination status.
In an effort to comply with these guidelines, families, and communities adopted creative solutions to keep Halloween safe and fun. One of these solutions was the creation of outdoor tables to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. This simple solution allowed trick-or-treaters to reap all the same benefits as the door-to-door tradition, but significantly reduced the risks of contact and exposure. Furthermore, many turned to make individual bags of treats to hand out to passersby in order to avoid them reaching their hands into the same candy bowl.
Masks have always been an integral part of Halloween, but this year, surgical and cloth masks overtook the strictly costume ones. Protective masks were able to be creatively worked into costumes to encourage safety while still maintaining all the fun of dressing up. Some examples of these are masks with the faces of animals, cartoon characters, or mythical creatures.
While the spread of COVID was prevented in many places, not everyone was compliant with the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing. With students back on college campuses, Halloween parties were held with many students in close contact with one another. In the weeks that followed October 31st, many colleges reported a spike in cases traced back to social gatherings from this day. The University of Michigan, for example, reported their highest number of COVID-19 cases since move-in day, with 221 new positive cases connected back to Halloween night.
As COVID cases continue to decrease and vaccination rates rise, there is hope for a slow return to normalcy, along with the time-honored, cherished traditions.