SPRINGFIELD – The state announced Halloween COVID-19 guidance encouraging social distancing while trick-or-treating.
Those passing out candy should maintain six feet from trick-or-treaters and wear proper face coverings, according to the guidance, and trick-or-treating should be done in groups with household members only.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said households should consider leaving individually wrapped candy on a table in driveways or in front of walkways to allow for social distancing
“For anyone wearing a costume — whether a child or an adult — a costume mask is not a substitute for face covering,” Ezike said. “If face coverings are worn under the costume mask, please ensure that this does not create any breathing problems, and if it does, don’t discard your face covering. Put the costume mask aside.”
Indoor haunted houses are not allowed, per Phase 4 state guidance, and IDPH suggested open-air alternatives.
At pumpkin patches, face coverings should be worn and hands sanitized before handling pumpkins. On hayrides, parties should be spaced six feet apart and they should not exceed 50 percent capacity.
Also per Phase 4 guidelines, gatherings of more than 50 people or 50 percent or more of a building’s maximum occupancy are prohibited, including for Halloween parties.
“One of the hallmarks of holidays and celebrations is gathering with friends, family and loved ones,” said Ezike. “We are still in a pandemic, and unfortunately, this year, that means the safest way to celebrate is to stay home and plan virtual gatherings. That said, IDPH recognizes that some will choose to gather together anyway, and instead of denying that reality, we are issuing guidance and recommendations for safer ways to celebrate together in person.
“Remember, we know what our best tools are: wearing our masks, keeping our distance, limiting event sizes, washing your hands, and looking out for public health and each other.”
- Anyone participating in trick-or-treating, including those passing out candy, should maintain 6-feet of social distance and wear proper face coverings.
- Consider leaving individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) on a table in driveways or in front of walkways, sidewalks, or any outdoor space where 6-feet of distance can be maintained.
- A Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Ensure that breathing is not impaired if a cloth mask is worn under a costume mask. If so, discard the costume mask.
- Trick-or-treat in groups with household members only.
- Candy collected during trick-or-treating should not be eaten until after handwashing.
An alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is to set up in a large parking lot or other outdoor setting with tables with individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) where participants with a parent/guardian can parade past while still keeping 6-feet of distance and wearing a face covering. It’s suggested to offer reserved time slots to limit everyone showing up at once.
- Halloween haunted houses currently are not allowed in Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines.
- Consider open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where 6-feet of distance can be maintained and face coverings are used.
Adult Halloween parties
- Gatherings of more than 50 people or 50 percent or more of a building’s maximum occupancy are prohibited. (Lower limits may apply for regions in additional mitigation.)
- The more time you spend at a gathering, the closer the contact, the more people, the higher your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- Follow small social gathering safety tips from IDPH.
Pumpkin patches and orchards
- Cloth face coverings and social distancing should be enforced.
- Use hand sanitizer before handling pumpkins, apples, and other produce.
- Hayrides should not exceed 50 percent capacity with parties spaced at least six feet apart.
- Wear face coverings at all times when around people not from your household.
After participating in any of the above activities, if you think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to help protect others. You should:
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Consider getting tested for COVID-19.
IDPH Halloween guidance can be found on the IDPH website.
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois contributed to this story.
Safe, low-risk Halloween
If you will be celebrating Halloween, the Centers for Disease Control encourages following these suggestions for safer, low-risk activities:
- 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 admiring 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