Alabama health officials issue guidance on Halloween activities

Updated: Oct. 20, 2020 at 3:24 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Public Health is putting out guidelines to help keep families safe this Halloween, including who should and shouldn’t trick or treat.

ADPH recommends that families find alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating to curb the spread of COVID-19. Health officials say this is consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ADPH says anyone who has had COVID-19 or been exposed to it should not participate in in-person Halloween activities. Anyone exposed to the virus within the past 14 days or is showing symptoms should stay at home.

People with increased risk of severe illness should also stay home, health experts say.

Children who have not been exposed may still enjoy limited trick-or-treating after adults weigh the risks. ADPH officials say parents should assess the risks of trick-or-treating or other activities, take precautions and carefully supervise.

Adults should also emphasize the importance of consistent hand hygiene, proper mask wearing and social distancing where people can remain at least 6 feet apart.

Avoiding large, crowded groups is important, health officials say.

The health department says the main indicator for limiting the risk of COVID-19 spread within a community is the number of days a county has a downward trend in new cases. Alabama counties’ current risk levels can be found on the ADPH COVID-19 Risk Indicator Dashboard.

Halloween activities are grouped according to the following risk levels:

Higher risk

  • Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating with shared candy bowls
  • Trunk-or-treating events
  • Crowded indoor events such as haunted houses and costume contests

Moderate risk

  • No-touch trick-or-treating (such as candy chutes)
  • Goodie bags placed outside for pickup
  • Outdoor, distanced costume parade
  • Outdoor, distanced movie night

Lower risk

  • Pumpkin carving at home with family
  • Outdoor, distanced pumpkin carving with friends
  • Decorating at home
  • Outdoor scavenger hunt in neighborhood
  • Virtual costume contest
  • Movie night with family

Traditional injury prevention and health precautions for trick-or-treating hold true in 2020. As always, responsible adult supervision is key. Safety measures to take beforehand, during and after trick-or-treating include the following:

  • Be sure costumes, wigs and accessories are flame-resistant.
  • Wear protective face coverings made up of two or more layers of breathable fabric instead of a costume mask. Face coverings can be decorated with themes, too.
  • Add reflective tape to costumes.
  • Do not wear decorative contact lenses; they can cause eye injuries.
  • Be careful to prevent accidental cuts when carving pumpkins.
  • Make sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles.
  • Never walk near lit candles or luminaries and avoid distraction from electronic devices.
  • Keep candle-lit jack-o'-lanterns away from doorsteps, walkways, landings and curtains.
  • Prepare grab-and-go goodie bags for no touch pickup outside.
  • Consider providing non-food treats such as crayons and coloring books.
  • Examine treats for choking hazards before allowing them to be consumed; limit the amount of sugary and sticky candies consumed.

Click here for additional Halloween recommendations from the CDC.

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