SAGINAW, MI — With the threat of coronavirus and COVID-19 canceling so many community events and celebrations this year, families with young children may be wondering what implications the pandemic will have for Halloween and trick-or-treating.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deems trick-or-treating, costume parties, and haunted houses high risk. But some mid-Michigan communities have already announced suggested trick-or-treating hours and said it’s up to residents to decide whether to participate this year.
Halloween is Saturday, Oct. 31.
The Saginaw County Health Department recently issued COVID-19 guidance for residents who choose to celebrate the holiday. Health officials shared their recommendations via the Saginaw County Health Department Facebook page.
“Much like deciding whether or not to send your children to in-person learning at school or keep them home for remote learning, Halloween 2020 requires an informed personal decision based on your family dynamics and health history. Each family must weigh the risks for themselves,” the post reads.
Things to consider when making this decision, according to health department officials, include:
- Any time you leave home, there is a risk of being exposed to COVID-19. We must weigh the risks any time we go out.
- Do you have loved ones with underlying health conditions?
- Do your neighbors wear masks and practice social distancing?
- Will your children keep their masks on and practice social distancing if they go trick-or-treating?
- Are there alternative activities your children would enjoy just as much?
Saginaw County Health Department officials also offered these tips for people who choose to participate in trick-or-treating:
- If you have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, do not participate in Halloween festivities and do not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
- Follow any rules, regulations or laws governing your community.
- Trick-or-treat with people in your household and explain to children the importance of staying at least six feet away from people outside your group.
- Avoid congregating in groups near houses.
- Wear a face mask — not a costume mask — covering both your mouth and nose.
- Only go to houses with safety measures in place.
And tips for participating homeowners:
- Use duct tape to mark six-foot lines in front of your home and leading to your driveway/front door.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing any treats to be distributed, including pre-packaged candy.
- Position a disinfected distribution table between you and the trick-or-treaters and do not allow children to reach into containers to get their candy/treats.
- Consider handing out candy in an open space with one-way traffic flow or grab-and-go stations of individually prepared goodies.
- Wear a mask while distributing candy.
“Any time you leave home or gather with people you don’t normally live with in your household, there is risk of exposure to COVID-19. We all have to weigh the risks each time based on our own family dynamics. Halloween is another example of making an informed choice,” said Health Officer Chris Harrington. “The health department is providing guidance to help Saginaw County residents make those decisions armed with information and tips for minimizing risks.”
Thomas Township officials shared a statement regarding the holiday via the Thomas Township Public Safety Facebook page. Township officials said it’s up to residents to decide whether to go trick-or-treating and whether to pass out candy, but urged those who do participate to adhere to any public health recommendations from the Saginaw County Health Department, including wearing a mask and social distancing.
“Halloween and trick-or-treating is a nationally recognized day for children to dress up in costumes and go door to door to receive a treat and it is not sanctioned by the township,” the statement read, in part. “The township only announces the suggested trick-or-treating hours (5:30-7:30 p.m.) so that it keeps a sense of order with the increased amount of pedestrian traffic for that evening and the township has no further involvement. The township has no legal authority or basis to cancel Halloween and trick-or-treating or to restrict the free movement of its residents.”
And city of Midland officials shared similar guidance but with a bit a humor via the city government’s Facebook page.
COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS
In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.
Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.
Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued executive orders requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. See an explanation of what that means here.
Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
For more data on COVID-19 in Michigan, visit https://www.mlive.com/coronavirus/data/.
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