CDC guidelines urge families to avoid trick-or-treating this Halloween

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By WCBS Newsradio 880

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its guidance for celebrating Halloween amid the pandemic.

The CDC says many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses, including COVID-19.

New guidelines posted to the CDC website on Monday now recommend families avoid participating in traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, which the health agency has labeled a "high risk" activity.

Other high-risk activities include:

- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

The CDC suggests these low risk activities as a safer alternative to celebrating Halloween:

- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household — or outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends — and displaying them
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

The CDC also says Halloween costume masks should not be used in place of cloth masks to protect yourself against the virus.

"Do not use a costume mask as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face," the CDC said, adding, "Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask."

The guidance also provides a list of moderate risk activities for Halloween and provides activity risk factors for celebrating Día de los Muertos and Thanksgiving. 

The CDC says the considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state or local health and safety regulations.

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “I would not ban trick-or-treaters going door to door." The governor said he would issue some advice and guidance, but ultimately, parents would be left to make the final decision on trick-or-treating. 

The CDC stresses anyone who has COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with the virus should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.

The CDC says you should practice social distancing, wear masks, wash your hands and limit contact with commonly touched surfaces to protect yourself against the virus. It also recommends getting a flu shot. 

For more tips on how to stay safe and healthy during the fall holidays, click here.

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