Halloween may look a little different this year for some as they look to take safety precautions amid the pandemic, but area municipalities are leaving that up to residents.
No local governments are placing restrictions on trick-or-treating, though two have cancelled larger Halloween events and at least two are encouraging residents to follow Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines.
Waterloo has canceled its annual Main Street trunk-or-treat event but is not limiting trick-or-treating.
“The City of Waterloo doesn’t currently have any Halloween or trick-or-treating ordinance in place, so we are just going to encourage our residents to follow the guidance that was put out by the IDPH,” Waterloo Community Relations Coordinator Sarah Deutch said.
Columbia is taking a similar approach, as it canceled its annual Halloween Hijinks set for
Oct. 24, though individual businesses can still distribute candy that day.
“As far as regular Halloween trick-or-treating goes, that’s just up to the residents to decide,” Columbia Assistant to the City Administrator Sue Spargo said.
Valmeyer has also approved its Halloween activities, and it is advising residents to follow IDPH guidelines.
Red Bud actually extended its trick-or-treat time, as it now starts at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. like normal given that sunset is just after 6 p.m. on Oct. 31.
Finally, Dupo and Millstadt are allowing normal Halloween activities while reminding residents to wear a face covering and social distance.
The IDPH guidelines include that advice and more “because some of the traditional ways to celebrate this holiday do not allow for proper social distancing.”
“Trick-or-treating events need to incorporate social distancing, masking and proper handwashing, as well as adherence to event size limitations,” the IDPH advised. “For this year, it would be safest to plan special events at home, using social media and other meeting platforms to connect with family and friends.”
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, the IDPH said. Ensure breathing is not impaired if a cloth mask is worn under a costume mask. If so, discard the costume mask.
Other IDPH guidelines:
Candy collected during trick-or-treating should not be eaten until after handwashing.
The IDPH says an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is to set up in a large parking lot or other outdoor setting with tables with individually wrapped candy where scheduled participants with a parent can parade past while still keeping six feet of distance and wearing a face covering.
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.
Gatherings of more than 50 people or 50 percent or more of a building’s maximum occupancy are prohibited.
The more time spent at a gathering, the closer the contact, the more people, the higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. Follow small social gathering safety tips.
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, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to help protect others including staying home as much as possible, avoiding being around those at increased risk from COVID-19 and considering getting tested for COVID-19.
View full IDPH Halloween guidance at dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/halloween-guidance.