Coronavirus is scary but Halloween can still be fun

Stay away from haunted houses and reconsider door-to-door trick-or-treating, UW Medicine clinicians suggest.

Holidays are looking different for most of us in 2020.  Fortunately there are many ways to celebrate Halloween while observing pandemic precautions. Here are a few tips from Bryna Dunaway McCollum, a physician assistant at the UW Northgate Neighborhood Clinic.

  • Keep festivities outdoors.  Instead of an indoor party and trick-or-treating, enjoy the fall weather and try a costume parade with a few neighbors, or take a trip to a pumpkin patch or park in costumes with a couple of friends. Check out the Seattle Department of Transportation's Trick or Street Program, she said.
  • Keep it masked.  You can incorporate your cloth facemask into a costume design: Think a jack-o-lantern face, superhero, or adding glow-in-the-dark stickers.  Avoid painting on a mask.  
  • Keep it 6 feet apart.  Avoid crowds and standing close close to friends.  
  • Keep it small and simple.  Minimize the number of people from outside of your household.  Consider a cozy indoor movie night with your family.  Dr. Gaetan Habekoss of the UW Medicine Ravenna Clinic suggests celebrating with a pumpkin-carving contest, hiding candy around the yard, or having a bingo-style scavenger hunt. Also consider a virtual Halloween costume contest.

Many folks will not trick-or-treat this year because close interactions are nearly unavoidable.  While trick-or-treating from vehicles in a parking lot has been popular in recent years, it also poses challenges for avoiding clusters of people.  If you want to give out candy from your home, stay outdoors and consider using tape to mark off lines 6 feet apart in front of your house to remind visitors to distance appropriately, she said.  

Dunaway McCollum suggests avoiding riskier Halloween festivities such as:

  • Indoor haunted houses.  Screaming increases the number of respiratory droplets and crowded indoor environments make haunted houses something to steer clear of this year.  
  • Any party with shared food or drinks. Shared food increases the opportunities for high-touch surfaces and virus transmission.  If you decide to share treats with friends, consider prepackaged bags to take home and enjoy later.  Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before enjoying treats.  

Be mindful of traditional safety tips that are important every Halloween.

  • Be allergy-aware.  Nut and other allergies can be safety concerns.  Non-food treats such as glow sticks, stickers, mini-flashlights, crayons or plastic jewelry are fun non-food ways of celebrating instead.  Consider the Teal Pumpkin Project.  
  • Avoid choking hazards, especially hard candy, gum, taffy, caramel, and nuts for kids under 5.    
  • Be mindful of traffic safety and consider using reflective tape on costumes, flashlights, or headlamps for visibility if you are out after dark.  

Oh, and for the adults: Get your flu shot.

Barbara Clements, 253.740.5043,

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