The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday issued guidance to help residents celebrate Halloween safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidelines include following the “Three Ws” – Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Wear your mask.
“We are still in a pandemic, and unfortunately, this year, that means the safest way to celebrate is to stay home and plan virtual gatherings,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “That said, IDPH recognizes that some will choose to gather together anyway, and instead of denying that reality, we are issuing guidance and recommendations for safer ways to celebrate together in person.”
First, the IDPH says that if you think you could have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, do not participate in any in-person Halloween activities.
– Anyone participating in trick-or-treating, including those passing out candy, should maintain six feet of social distance and wear proper face coverings.
– Consider leaving individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) on a table in driveways or in front of walkways, sidewalks, or any outdoor space where six feet of distance can be maintained.
– A Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Ensure that breathing is not impaired if a cloth mask is worn under a costume mask. If so, discard the costume mask.
– Trick-or-treat in groups with household members only.
– Candy collected during trick-or-treating should not be eaten until after handwashing.
An alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, the IDPH says, is to set up in a large parking lot or other outdoor setting with tables with individually wrapped candy where participants with a parent or guardian can parade past while still keeping six feet of distance and wearing a face covering. It’s suggested to offer reserved time slots to limit everyone showing up at once.
– Halloween haunted houses currently are not allowed in Phase 4 guidelines.
– Consider open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where six feet of distance can be maintained and face coverings are used.
Adult costume parties, Halloween parties at bars
– Gatherings of more than 50 people or 50 percent or more of a building’s maximum occupancy are prohibited. (Lower limits may apply for regions in additional mitigation.)
– The more time you spend at a gathering, the closer the contact, the more people, the higher your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
– Follow small social gathering safety tips.
Pumpkin patches and orchards
– Cloth face coverings and social distancing should be enforced.
– Use hand sanitizer before handling pumpkins, apples and other produce.
– Hayrides should not exceed 50 percent capacity with parties spaced at least six feet apart.
– Wear face coverings at all times when around people not from your household.
After participating in any of the above activities, if you think you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to help protect others. You should:
• Stay home as much as possible.
• Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
• Consider getting tested for COVID-19.
To view the full listing of IDPH Halloween guidance, click here.