With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread around the country, many are wondering if Halloween is canceled this year?
While large gatherings are discouraged, there are steps that parents can take to make activities like trick-or-treating safer for their little ones.
Take stock of your community and household
It all starts by assessing the status of the novel virus in your community or area.
"You want that [positive testing rate] number to be less than 5%, ideally even lower than that," Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, an assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the pediatric telemedicine program with Columbia University Medical Center, told "Good Morning America." "Then you want to look at the number of cases and the number of hospitalizations.”
In addition, you should take into consideration the health status of people in your family, if anyone has preexisting conditions and if you are in a multigenerational household.
Talk to your neighbors
Bracho-Sanchez urged people to discuss a plan with their neighbors to ensure that everyone socially distances, wears masks and is on board with how to distribute candy. If you are trick-or-treating with a group, it’s best to keep it small and with people that have been practicing social distancing throughout the pandemic. Something else to consider is contacting neighbors that do not partake in trick-or-treating to alert them of your plans.
Get a flu shot
With flu season potentially coinciding with Halloween, making sure to be inoculated adds a layer of protection. “Flu before boo” is the term many pediatricians use as a reminder.
Face masks aren’t just for costumes this year, they’re for your health.
"It can match, it can be decorated, you could try to get creative about ways to incorporate it into the costume, but it absolutely needs to be a part of it if your child is above age 2," Bracho-Sanchez said in regards to making face masks or coverings mandatory.
Handing Out Candy
This year, parents should find creative ways to hand out candy to keep everyone safe.
"I'm imagining handing out candy from a distance," Brancho-Sanchez said. "If you don't have a driveway, perhaps you have some sort of method to do it from a distance."
Another suggestion is setting up a hand-washing station with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to make it easy for kids to use prior to dipping their hands in candy bowls. Adults should also wear masks and wash their hands often if they are giving out candy at their door.
While Halloween may look different this year, it can still be fun and safe for trick-or-treaters.
“I think it's going to be really important that adults get together and they plan together in their community and their neighborhood or in their building to make this safe for children and for the adults around them," Bracho-Sanchez added.