Cincinnati Children's Blog

Halloween During COVID-19: Advice from the Expert

Halloween During COVID-19: Advice from the Expert

Last year as the COVID-19 pandemic limited our contact with others, Halloween looked very different for everyone, everywhere. This year as the delta variant has caused a spike in cases over the last month in our region, concerns remain about how to safely celebrate Halloween in 2021.

Fortunately, it looks like COVID cases have peaked in children recently. If the trend continues, by Halloween we could be back down to under 50,000 new cases per week in children in the U.S.

With this in mind, and with many kids over 12 vaccinated, I’ve updated my recommendations for Halloween celebrations this year. Here are the questions I’m getting and my answers:

Should I hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, leave it in a bowl out front, or just opt out this year?

There is no need to opt out of handing out candy, unless you just don’t want to participate this year.

To hand out candy safely, I suggest you wear a mask and hand it out to the kids, rather than having dozens of kids stick their hands in a large bowl of candy. When you give out candy, drop it in the child’s bag instead of trying to hand it to them, that way it’s a no-contact interaction.

Is it safe for my kids to go out in our neighborhood for trick-or-treat?

With a few precautions and reminders, listed below, I believe kids can safely trick-or-treat. I recommend sticking close to home if possible so your kids can come home if they aren’t comfortable with the actions of others.

 If you usually travel in large groups to other neighborhoods for trick-or-treat, try to avoid riding in crowded vehicles and try a different neighborhood if the one you usually visit is too packed for proper social distancing.

What rules should I set for my child before they head out to trick-or-treat?

I would tell your children to do three specific things:

  1. Have the person handing out candy put it right in their bag.
  2. Ask them to stay as separated as they are at school.
  3. Tell them to wait to eat the candy until they get home.

Should my child wear a mask over or under his or her Halloween mask?

If the kids are outdoors and vaccinated, they don’t need masks. If they are unvaccinated, or going indoors, I would ask that they mask.

Should I let my child trick-or-treat with friends?

Yes, that’s one of the best parts! I would ask that they remember social distancing, although I am sure that will be difficult for kids when they are out having fun. Please make sure all the kids in the group are properly masked before they head out, per my recommendations above.

Should I wash wrapped candy collected by my child?

No. Remember, the virus does not live long on surfaces. If you want to be really safe, you can ask your kids to give you the candy and you can put it away until the next day. By then, even if there were virus on the wrapper, it should be very weakened or dead. This is not an excuse for you to eat all of your child’s candy!

Should I let my child go to a Halloween party?

If the kids are vaccinated, I am OK with them having a party. But keep it in moderation (fewer than 20-30 people).

If kids are not vaccinated, I would recommend limiting parties to 10 or fewer people. Guests shouldn’t come if they’re sick, and have the kids maintain social distancing and wear a mask. Outside parties are a good option if the weather allows for it.

Please also remember to review our Halloween safety tips that are important to follow every year.

Happy Halloween!

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