Pandemic Halloween 2020

As you might have considered by now, Halloween is going to be celebrated a little differently across the world in 2020. As of mid-October, The US and UK are both suffering sharp rises in cases of COVID-19. Upwards of 10,000 cases per day are being recorded in both countries, with fears that a major new wave of the pandemic is on the horizon. 

With an increasing number of cases comes tighter restrictions. In California, the state’s Department of Public Health issued new guidance on October 9th that details how members of no more than three different households should gather at any one time. They also report that it is important to keep the people that you do mix with consistent over time. Constantly mixing with new households increases the risk of spreading the virus.

Similarly, outdoor gatherings in California can involve no more than three different households. They should last two hours or less and any singing, chanting or shouting should be managed very carefully with appropriate social distancing in place.

In the UK, October has seen the government introduce new limitations on social gatherings on almost all of the population. Cities and regions have been placed into a ‘tier system’, where Tier 3 represents the tightest lockdown measures. Regions in Tier 2 are still unable to mix households in an indoor setting, and up to six people are permitted to meet outdoors. 

It is not hard to imagine how all these recent October restrictions could impact Halloween celebrations in the US and UK!

How is Halloween Usually Celebrated?

Halloween is celebrated in a pretty similar way in the US and UK. Of course, there will be small regional differences, but the main points remain the same:

  • Young children are encouraged to dress up in a ‘scary’ costume and go ‘trick-or-treating’. This involves knocking on the doors of strangers, shouting “trick or treat!” and collecting candy from each household. 
  • Teenagers and adults might usually have Halloween parties where they attend wearing similar costumes. Considering that it is a colder time of year in most parts of the US and UK, these events are often held indoors. In a normal year, countless households would mix at a Halloween party with singing and shouting commonplace. 
  • People might go to a haunted house. Here, large groups are free to walk around a house that is designed to deliver a scary experience. Sometimes, there are even actors inside the house dressed up in scary costumes to help deliver the screams. 

As you might expect, all of these regular Halloween activities have been highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as posing high risk for spreading COVID-19. They all involve mixing of many households in confined spaces.

The CDC also mentioned the following activities when highlighting further Halloween events that might cause new infections:

  • Trunk-or-treat where adults offer candy to children from the trunk of their vehicle in a large parking lot.
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people outside of your household.
  • Heavy drinking or use of drugs which can seriously impair decision making, putting others at risk.

Halloween is usually a time of year for relaxing and attending fall parties. Clearly, this year is going to be different in light of the ever-present COVID-19 situation. However, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some safer Halloween activities to choose from!

How to Celebrate Halloween Safely in 2020

  • Make a fun Halloween party at home. Sure, you might think that nothing beats those large, festive gatherings at this time of year. Nonetheless, you could be surprised at what a fun time you can have at home with your family! Kit your home out with Halloween decorations to a bigger extent than normal, switch the lights off and turn on a scary movie.
  • Carve pumpkins at home. Big-time pumpkin carving contests are not on the table this year. However, you can still hold your own at home! Get everyone in the family to carve their own pumpkins before judging a winner. For good measure, roast the pumpkin seeds to make a tasty snack.
  • Get creative with trick-or-treating. Regular knocking on neighborhood doors might be out of the question, but you can think outside the box to deliver a memorable experience for kids this Halloween. Maintain physical distance by hanging bags of candy on a tree for kids to pick, or simply setting up a table with individual portions of candy in your yard.
  • Don’t neglect your face covering. If dressing up in a costume and attending a small gathering, don’t make the mistake of believing that your costume’s mask can replace your regular face covering. 
  • Join online costume contests. There’s no need to tone down the costume creation just because there will be fewer gatherings this year! Round up all your regular participants and organize a Zoom call to show off your latest Halloween creations. 

There are plenty of ways for kids and adults to celebrate Halloween this year without the need to gather in large groups! Just refer to this list for inspiration for your next spooky event.

Jack Vale is a writer for Seattle Fabrics, an outdoor and recreational fabric retailer.

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