BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Halloween is just around the corner, and many people are wondering what the holiday will look like due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, health officials have given people the green light to enjoy Halloween activities safely by following a few simple tips.
“We know that being outside is low-risk compared to a lot of indoor activities, so we recommend enjoying as many fun activities as you can outside,” said Erin DeLaney, M.D., a family medicine physician with University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Family and Community Medicine. “During the Halloween season, there are plenty of fun outdoor activities such as corn mazes, haunted trails, pumpkin carving and mummy races, so we really recommend taking advantage of these outdoor activities to reduce your chance of getting or spreading the flu and COVID-19.”
For activities that take place at night, DeLaney reminds everyone to wear reflective gear or lights to keep themselves safe.
Wear a mask
For those activities that are enjoyed inside, DeLaney recommends wearing a mask at all times and having these indoor gatherings take place in well-ventilated areas. Masks are an easy way to protect others this fall, but experts caution not to “double mask” by wearing a costume mask over a cloth or surgical mask because it can make breathing more difficult. A fun substitute can be a Halloween-themed mask made of two or more layers of breathable fabric or making cloth or surgical masks part of Halloween costumes.
Do not share food or drinks
To avoid face-to-face transmission, consider handing out individual bags of candy instead of having multiple children in proximity to each other reaching in the same candy bucket. It is also important to continue avoiding sharing food or drinks to prevent transmission.
“Surface transmission is not as much of a concern when it comes to handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, but face-to-face transmission is a concern,” DeLaney said. “It would be best to continue one-way trick-or-treating this year where individual goody bags are placed at the end of the yard or on a porch so kids can grab and go rather than having that face-to-face contact.”
While enjoying Halloween festivities, bring hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to use after touching objects or people. Before eating any Halloween treats, everyone should wash their hands using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds to prevent the spread of germs.
Although it takes two weeks for the body to produce enough antibodies to counter the influenza virus, health officials are encouraging people to get their flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine this month to be fully protected during the holiday season.
“These last 19 months have been really difficult for a lot of people with a lot of fun activities being canceled; but by following these simple tips, we can make this a safe night and season for those of all ages to enjoy,” DeLaney said.